April 08, 2005
Many occupations are dominated by either female workers or male workers. Most occupational therapists are women, for example, and most engineers are men. But these differences have lessened in numerous occupations in the past couple of decades.
In the chart above, each occupation was more than 95 percent of male in 1983, and the share of women in each occupation increased in the years that followed. The chart shows changes in employment share between 1983 and 2002, the years for which comparable data are available.
Automobile body and related repairers had the greatest shift. At one time, almost all of these repairers were men—yet between 1983 and 2002, the share of women working in this occupation more than tripled.
A percent increase in employment share describes a shift in the distribution of men and women in an occupation. But an increase in employment share does not indicate the actual number of jobs held by workers of a particular sex. For example, although women’s participation in the automobile body and related repairer occupation increased dramatically between 1983 and 2002, relatively few female workers (5,000) were employed in the occupation in 2002.