Women’s Labour Market Participation and Sex-specific Occupational Segregation in Europe

Research question/goal: 

The aim of the project was to examine how cross-national differences in horizontal and vertical occupational sex segregation can be explained by considering both individual level characteristics as well as country-specific institutional settings. Research strategy: The study is based on secondary data analyses using the European Union Labour Force Survey for the 1990s and 2000s. In its initial sections, it discusses theories for the explanation of occupational sex segregation and methods for its measurement. This is followed by an empirical description of recent trends in female employment and occupational sex segregation. Furthermore, the role of important institutional structures, like social policies and cultural norms, is addressed. Based on the descriptive findings, the analytical part, firstly, outlines a ‘typology of sex segregation regimes’ using hierarchical cluster analysis. Secondly, cross-national variation in the horizontal and vertical dimension of occupational sex segregation is explained by considering individual attributes besides the aforementioned institutional factors. For this purpose, multi-level modelling is applied which takes into account the nested sources of variability and allows for the combination of different analytical levels into a single framework. Main Findings: According to the theoretical concept developed in the first part of the study, four distinct sex segregation regimes (modernised, conservative, traditional and post-communist) can be distinguished on the basis of central macro-level factors. These regimes, in particular, give insights into the positioning of former CCE countries, and demonstrate that a joint clustering of these countries is unrealistic. Furthermore, it can be shown that the defined regimes are quite stable over time. Explaining the reasons underlying the cross-national variation in horizontal and vertical occupational sex segregation, the main finding of the study confirms that besides individual determinants, institutional factors, like the organization of educational systems, post-industrial developments, social policies and the national ‘gender culture’, play a crucial role. However, for each of the two dimension of occupational sex segregation, a different set of institutional factors is relevant to the explanation of cross-national differences. Moreover, it can be shown that these factors are operating in different directions: some factors reducing horizontal segregation, at the same time, have the opposite effect on the vertical aspect.

Fact sheet

MZES (doctoral program)
2005 to 2008
Data Sources: 
Secondary analyses of the European and National Labour Force
Geographic Space: 
European Union