The gendered valuation of occupations and skills: Earnings in 1980 census occupations

Paula England, Lori L. Reid, Lori Mc Creary Megdal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The percent female of an occupation lowers the pay it offers to both men and women, net of skill demands, nonpecuniary amenities and disamenities, and industrial and organizational characteristics. Net of these variables, including percent female, occupations involving nurturance offer lower wages to both men and women. We interpret these net wage penalties for working in a more female occupation, and for doing nurturant work, as sex discrimination in wage setting; occupations and types of skill are devalued because they are typically done by women. We suggest a thesis of the gendered valuation of roles and skills. The sex gap in pay would be reduced by policies mandating comparable worth in setting occupations’ pay levels. Other factors contributing to the sex gap in pay include men’s higher representation in jobs with authority and in occupations typically located in higher paying industries. Some nonpecuniary amenities and disamenities affect pay consistent with the theory of compensating differentials, but these make no contribution to the sex gap in pay.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-100
Number of pages36
JournalSocial Forces
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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