This article presents a new approach to measuring the most important dimension of
gender segregation the vertical dimension in quantitative survey data. This, in
turn, allows for a reassessment of the view that high levels of gender segregation
are synonymous with high levels of social inequality. In order to do this, the article
also draws upon significant conceptual developments. Segregation as it is commonly
understood is named as overall segregation, and is the resultant of two components,
horizontal and vertical segregation, representing difference and inequality separately.
This provides a clear approach to measurement. The argument is developed with a case
study of the British labour force. The pattern of segregation, in terms of its overall
level and its components, varies considerably across sections of the labour force.
In terms of inequality, the vertical components measured indicate that British women
working full-time are more advantaged than we would expect, and that women working
in part-time manual occupations, though facing the greatest relative disadvantage
in terms of pay, are actually slightly advantaged over men working in manual occupations
in terms of social stratification. Although overall segregation has remained relatively
unchanged over the five year period from 1991 to 1996, there have been some significant
changes to its components within the various sections of the employed British labour
force in that time. By looking at the various sections of the labour force, relative
to the labour force as a whole, we can achieve a better understanding of how segregation
operates with respect to gender inequalities.