According to Crompton and Le Feuvre women experience both horizontal and vertical segregation of work

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Women are now in more paid work than previously with a rise of 2. 25 million in female workers between 1969-89, compared to a rise of only 0. 5 million men. More recently about 12 million women were employed in 1998 compared with 9. 9 million in 1984. However it is clear that barriers for women to enter workplace still exists. For example, Francis Sly comments that the main barrier to women going to work is childcare. Although women are going back to work it is mainly part-time work. It is also clear that women also suffer segregation in the workplace.

There are significant differences in pay, for example between 1985-95 pay was increased 71% for men but only 21% for women. Sociologists such as Crompton and Le Feuvre distinguish two types of segregation in the labour market in terms of gender. These are horizontal and vertical segregation. Horizontal segregation refers to the sectors in which people work for example the different sectors of work. There is a lot of evidence to explain and prove horizontal segregation to exist. The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) in 1996 concluded that women in the public sector were mainly employed in health and education, especially teaching.

Nursing and primary school teaching is almost exclusively female. In the private sector women are over-concentrated in clerical, administrative, retail and catering. Research by Martin and Roberts using evidence from the Department of Employment found that 63% of women only worked with other women whilst 81% of men worked with other men only. Vertical segregation can be defined as segregation, which occurs at the levels and grades of jobs and pay. Women tend to be concentrated at the lower levels of employment in terms of skill and consequently status.

For example in 1988 the NUT found that 50% of male primary school teachers were head teachers compared to 15% of women. Even when women do gain access to the upper professional or managerial sector, they are likely to encounter a ‘glass ceiling’ where they can in theory reach the top levels yet in practice don’t. For example in 1991, 69% of managers and 83% of professionals were male. Another aspect of vertical segregation is a ‘gender pay-gap’. The EOC state that the average pay-gap remains at 20% between the genders. It also found that women only earn 72. 5% of men’s earnings.

Sociologists have suggested several explanations and versions of these types of segregation. Crompton and Le Feuvre give patriarchal control of men as an overwhelming reason for women being segregated and therefore prevent women becoming economically independent. However Sylvia Walby and Catherine Hakim have come up other explanations. Walby explains horizontal and vertical segregation by identifying a decline in vertical segregation. This can be identified with a rise in horizontal segregation due to a change in the nature of patriarchy, which allows it to segregate them instead of just exclude them as used to happen.

She uses evidence such as the large amount of women now in part-time jobs to prove her views, as women participating in part-time work mainly stop them i. e. exclude them from full-time jobs due to the oppression of patriarchy. She develops the concept of patriarchy and applies it to segregation. She defined the ‘triple systems theory’ with three elements to patriarchy, subordination that is institutions such as the family, media and education inevitably producing unequal relations between the genders. Secondly, oppression in which women experience sexism because men discriminate against them on the basis of unfounded stereotypes or ideology.

Lastly, exploitation where men exploit women’s skills and labour without rewarding them sufficiently e. g. housework. Catherine Hakim differs in her explanations of these segregations not through structural determinism i. e. patriarchy but how different behaviour and attitudes of men and women are to blame. She identified stability in women working over the years instead of a decline. She saw that men have higher levels of commitment to work, they would even work if they did not need to according to a survey she carried out.

Hakim found that 3/4 of men said they would work even if they didn’t need to compared to 2/3 of women. She saw the only gender difference occurs with part-time employment. She uses a ‘rational-choice theory’ in which women make choices in terms of the type of work they do e. g. they chose part-time work in order to manage child-care and housework. She also uses qualitative as well as quantitative methods to explain segregation. She saw two groups of women occurring, the ‘career woman’ and those concerns mainly with the ‘marriage career’.

She also disagrees that childcare concerns are not always a reason women only work part-time because mothers prioritise childrearing over employment. These theories have been criticised by other sociologists, for example Crompton believes Hakim underplays the structure i. e. patriarchy in which women have to make choices about work. A synoptic view such as the work of Sue Lees would see other social factors playing a part in segregation of women. Her studies in the 1980’s and 90’s found that middle-class girls are more career orientated whereas a lot of working-class girls were primarily concerned with domestic work rather than study.

A Marxist-Feminist such as Heidi Hartmann also would argue that job segregation is the way in which capitalist society maintains patriarchy, as it enforces lower wages so they are dependent on men. Men also benefit from this so continue to weaken the women’s position through domestic tasks. Social attitudes are also key to the segregation debate. Ginn and Amber point out that it is the employer’s attitudes rather than women’s attitudes that confine women to the secondary labour market.

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