Occupational gender segregation has been at the heart of debates about gender inequality.
High levels of segregation have been considered to be a significant factor in the
discrepancy between the wages of women and men, to impose constraints on careers,
and generally to be at the root of gender inequalities. The inequalities of segregation
are primarily located in market employment, but they spill over into all aspects
of life. Thus, the subject raises significant questions of social justice, of the
efficient utilisation of human resources, of the structuring of labour markets, and
of wider social aspects of work and family life. While there may be a wide consensus
about the importance of the subject, there is less agreement about precisely what
the term segregation encompasses. This situation can lead to disputes over substantive
matters. Furthermore, even when there is agreement about what should be measured,
there are disagreements about how best to do this. Accordingly, our purpose here
is to clarify some of the conceptual and measurement issues.
This Update first discusses the conceptualisation of segregation. It then presents
a short discussion of the major indices that have been used to measure segregation,
along with an abbreviated discussion of their shortcomings and our approach to overcoming
these. Finally, we reconsider the terms vertical segregation and horizontal segregation,
and suggest some new measurement possibilities.