Men Vs Women Occupational Trends

Women vs. Men – Occupational Trends

To this day, we continue to see a sizeable, albeit to fluctuating degrees, difference in the employment distribution trends of men and women in different occupations. This has become a characteristic feature of the labor market. So what causes these differences in employment distribution trends?

There are a number of different factors that influence these apparent trends. Some of these factors include:

  • Level of education
  • Personal preferences
  • Societal norms and attitudes
  • Family obligations
  • Discrimination
  • Gender roles
  • Social perception

Top Five Male Dominated Occupations

  • Construction Managers

In order to work in construction, one would need to complete a bachelor’s degree in construction science, construction management, architecture, or engineering. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that in 2014, there were 92.29% men employed in construction and 7.71% women. It is evident that there is a large discrepancy between the two sexes in this field.
Construction is a booming industry with the potential for very large salaries. Naturally, it is a field in which women want to break into. However, there is a sizeable amount of discrimination that deters women from entering and staying in the field.  For instance, sexual harassment, hostility, and stereotyped assumptions about women’s physical capabilities all contribute to the problem. 
The National Women’s Law Center published a report entitled ‘Women in Construction: Still Breaking Ground’ that showcases the data on women in construction and sheds light on the roadblocks they face. The report also provides practical recommendations to increase women’s opportunities to high-paying construction careers.

  • Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineers are professionals who research and design, and then subsequently develop, build, and test mechanical and thermal devices. This includes everything from tools, engines, and machines. Mechanical engineers can find employment at virtually any institute where innovation takes place and therefore they find jobs in a wide variety of industries.
In order to enter the field, candidates need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. As of 2014, data from the BLS indicates that there were 90.56% men in the profession and 9.44% women.
Traditionally, men were thought to be more inclined not only to the field of engineering but also mechanics. Furthermore, the longstanding belief that engineering is a profession, which caters to men and is one in which men are more well suited to thrive, has resulted in lower percentages of women in the field.

  • Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Electrical engineering is a field in which professionals are trained to design and develop a variety of different electronics and electronic equipment. These professionals are responsible for designing, developing, testing, and supervising the manufacturing of many types of electrical equipment, such as electric motors, radar, navigation and communications systems, or power generation equipment.
In order to become an electrical engineer, an individual would first need to complete a bachelor’s degree. Although not expressly required, having a Professional Engineer (PE) license may improve an engineer’s chances of finding employment and getting managerial level positions.
As of 2014, there were 89.30% men employed in this profession and 10.70% women.
Engineering has had a longstanding reputation for being a profession for men. This is evidenced by the small numbers of women who go on to study engineering in schools and accordingly, the small number of women who become qualified as engineers.
One of the main problems is that the profession has traditionally been dominated by men, and so women feel like a minority. They feel as if they don’t have any mentors to help them break into the profession.

  • Industrial Production Managers

Industrial production managers oversee the daily operations of manufacturing and other related plants. They organize resources and services, and plan, coordinate, and direct all the activities necessary to produce a large variety of goods.
In order to become an industrial production manager, individuals would typically need a bachelor’s degree in addition to a couple of years of work experience.
In 2014, 83.65% of production managers were men while 15.97% were women.
This is another example in which historical gender-biases have resulted in it becoming a male dominated profession. At the beginning of the industrial revolution, it was mostly the men who were employed in industries and then proceeded to move up the ranks to become production managers. Although these trends are changing, women may still find it difficult to climb up the ranks in a largely male dominated profession.

  • Civil Engineers

Civil engineering is one of the oldest branches of engineering, and is wide in its scope and application. The principal concern of this branch of engineering is to design and create strong and sturdy infrastructures such as sewage systems, bridges, highways, dams, buildings, railroads, tunnels, etc.
In order to become a civil engineer, one would first need to get a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. According to data from the BLS,  1 in 5 civil engineers also hold a master’s degree in civil engineering. This is because it opens doors to many higher level managerial positions.  Licensure is an essential requirement in order to work as a professional engineer (PE).
Engineering has historically been a male dominated field. According to data from the BLS, in 2014, 82.97% of men were employed as civil engineers and 16.72% were women.  There are many plausible reasons for this. It is suggested that there are a number of women who find it hard to hold their ground in male-dominated fields. They are a minority, while becoming engineers in school and then in the workplace. It may be intimidating for them to voice their opinions when they are alone.

Top Five Female Dominated Occupations

  • Preschool and kindergarten teachers

In order to qualify as a kindergarten teacher, all states require prospective candidates to hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Some states may even require all teachers to earn a master’s degree after receiving their teaching certification.
Historically, it was always women who would end up as teachers due to the fact that the men often had other jobs within the community. Women are perceived to be more patient and warm with young children who may need to be taught things a number of times before they learn. Furthermore, teachers often don’t have very high salaries. Data from the BLS shows that in 2012, the median salary was $50,120. 

  • Paralegals and legal assistants

A paralegal is someone who assists lawyers in the carrying out of a variety of tasks, which include: investigating the facts of a case, identifying relevant laws, arranging evidence, writing reports, etc. Their main job is to help lawyers prepare for trials, meetings, and hearings.
In order to become a paralegal, there are several paths that one may take. Candidates may enroll in a paralegal program to earn an associate’s degree. Although bachelor’s and master’s degrees in paralegal studies are not common, there are some schools that offer these programs. For those who already have a bachelor’s in another field, they can earn a certificate in paralegal studies.
In 2014, employment trends compiled by the BLS illustrate that 89.42% of paralegals were women and 10.31% were men.
It is suggested by some that the high percentage of females in this profession can be attributed to now-changing conceptions of gender roles. For instance, the attorney may have been seen as a more masculine role akin to a breadwinner while a paralegal was more of a caregiver. Men were also more frequently encouraged to seek out positions of authority. These old standards and conceptions may have led to a largely female-centric profession.

  • Registered nurses

A registered nurse is a healthcare professional who provides basic care to patients. They are also responsible for conducting research into nursing practices as well as further educating the public and patients about nursing.
In order to become a registered nurse, there are three educational paths that may be taken:

        A Bachelor's of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN)
        An Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN), or
        A diploma from an approved nursing program

It is also a requirement that all registered nurses be licensed. To become licensed, registered nurses must first graduate from an accredited nursing program and then pass the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-RN.
As of 2014, data from the BLS shows that 89.39% of registered nurses were females while 10.61% were male.
Nursing has historically been characterized as a female dominated profession.  Many men find it difficult to break through these gender stigmas and enter a profession dominated by women, despite the fact that nursing and healthcare professions are seeing a tremendous growth in employment.

  • Social workers

A social worker is someone who works with individuals, families, groups, and communities to ensure and enhance their wellbeing. They frequently are involved in research, policy making, crisis intervention, and teaching for the benefit of those affected by social difficulties such as poverty, mental and physical illness or disability. Social workers also work in pursuit of social justice in helping those who have had violations of their civil liberties and human rights.
To become a social worker, a bachelor’s degree in social work, psychology, or sociology is required. In addition, all programs require students to complete supervised fieldwork or an internship. If you intend to work in clinical settings or schools, a master’s degree in social work (MSW) may be required.
In 2014, the BLS found that 81.59% of social workers were women and 18.41% were men.
Social worker is another female dominated profession. This continues to be the prevalent attitude even though many aspects of the field transcend gender. However, historically, social work was used as a tool with which to champion the rights of women in movements such as feminism, philanthropy, and humanism.
Many may still consider the profession to have a lower status and its salary range, which is known to be low. Existing gender biases about caring roles being better suited to women are also very prevalent.
For some men, incentives such as financial reward and professional status are important factors in their professional identities. They, therefore, have stayed away from social work.

  • Special education teachers

Special education teachers are trained to work with students who may suffer from a variety of learning, emotional, mental, and physical disabilities. They must structure lessons in such a way that these students may absorb, understand, and retain the information. Special education teachers also teach students, who suffer from severe disabilities, a variety of skills including how to effectively communicate.
In order to qualify as a special education teacher, an individual would first have to get a bachelor’s degree. Some teachers also choose to major in elementary education or a specific area they intend to teach, such as math or chemistry. Some states may require special education teachers to complete a master’s degree in special education in order to become fully certified.

As of 2014, data from the BLS shows that there were 81.02% women employed as special education teachers and 19.32% men.
Working with children with disabilities requires a great deal of patience and persistence. Traditionally, it was felt that women had a greater aptitude for this line of work. Furthermore, due to the fact that women are traditionally the primary caregivers of children, it was thought that they could better understand what it took to teach children with special needs.

It can be seen that there are a number of different reasons for the apparent disparities seen in the employment trends of men and women. One factor, which seems to be common to all of these professions, is long standing gender-biases. For many years, a particular profession may have been dominated by one gender and therefore be perceived as either masculine or feminine. For this reason, many people find it difficult to break into these professions and change these outdated gender-biases.


States with the highest employment level in this occupation:



Employment per thousand jobs

Location quotient

Hourly mean wage

Annual mean wage

California 16600.111.2618.1337720
Florida 11300.141.6817.9737370
Illinois 9600.161.9217.937240
Texas 7600.070.7816.6234570
New York 6500.070.8520.1241840


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