Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Sex segregation and inequality in the modern labour market

Sex segregation and inequality in the modern labour market

Jude Browne
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Sex segregation and inequality in the modern labour market
    Book Description:

    This book presents a novel interpretation of the nature, causes and consequences of sex inequality in the modern labour market. Employing a sophisticated new theoretical framework, and drawing on original fieldwork, the book develops a subtle account of the phenomenon of sex segregation and offers a major challenge to existing approaches. In an environment increasingly defined by attempts to converge and consolidate international policy objectives, an in-depth understanding of contemporary forms of inequality is vital to anyone interested in the effective translation of normative accounts of social justice into practical policy. Aimed at academics and advanced students working in social policy, sociology and political science, as well as policy makers, this book makes an important contribution to knowledge and debate in the field.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-169-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. List of figures and tables
    (pp. vi-vi)
  2. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    Within all established liberal democracies, there is universal recognition that formal political, civil and social rights should apply equally to men and women. Within the economically developed world the idea of equality of opportunity, irrespective of sex, carries common currency across all shades of ideological opinion and is widely celebrated as both socially desirable and pragmatically sound. Since the 1970s, sophisticated anti-discrimination laws have evolved to combat prejudice-driven injustices and a multitude of strategies employed to resolve obstacles to equal opportunity for both sexes. For example, ‘gender’ is now ‘mainstreamed’ into state analysis of public policies, into corporations’ assessment of...

  3. ONE Explanations of occupational sex segregation
    (pp. 17-48)

    How effective are prominent causal theories of VOSS? This chapter assesses representative theories from three major ‘explanatory camps’: psychological and psycho-physiological theories, theories of patriarchy, and human capital-based theories. The claims of these approaches will be tested against the findings of an in-depth case study of BBC workers over subsequent chapters.

    The following sections examine the work both of more ‘traditional’ advocates of each camp and of some theorists who have attempted to develop their fields. The intention is to provide a broader account of the various approaches and to emphasise the problematic features of each perspective, pointing towards the...

  4. TWO VOSS in the BBC
    (pp. 49-66)

    This chapter illustrates the major quantitative findings of a large and detailed empirical investigation of occupational sex segregation in the BBC. It is from these data that we can begin our empirical test of the causal explanations of VOSS contested in the previous chapter. First, we will take a brief look at the sex ratios in the BBC that provide optimal data from which to make comparisons of male and female workers across all sectors of the organisation. The sample is made up of 19,129 full-time workers employed within the BBC’s 79 occupations. The split between the sexes is virtually...

  5. THREE What people say in the BBC
    (pp. 67-112)

    This chapter explores the themes that underpin the major explanatory theories of VOSS, and scrutinises them through the lens of qualitative analysis. It examines whether the interpretations and attitudes of people, working in an environment infused with substantial levels of VOSS, tally with suppositions intrinsic to patriarchy theories, binary-based theories and human capital-based theories.

    The following sections display an abridged version of a large detailed qualitative study (Browne, nd). In order to provide a representative account of a large body of work, detail and head counts have been excluded where possible, and the focus is on emphasising the main emergent...

  6. FOUR The ‘herding effect’
    (pp. 113-152)

    At this point, then, we can identify the two ‘primary causal factors’ of VOSS in the BBC study. The first was demonstrated by revealing pervasive biases against women with children. There was evidence that these negative attitudes were rooted in beliefs that women’s roles as child bearer and child rearer were unequivocally disruptive to the workplace making an assumed correlation between mothers’ ‘domestic commitment’ and significantly lower levels of productivity. The second was the substantial practical setbacks that parents faced when trying to combine their domestic and employment responsibilities. This difficulty manifested itself in two notable ways: the problem of...

  7. FIVE The seduction of outcomes: concluding remarks
    (pp. 153-156)

    A central theme of this book has been the meaning of outcomes. In analyses of sex segregationobservationof particular outcomes has all too often been readily assumed to be indicative of particularcauses.The stubborn survival of VOSS has prompted a range of explanations. Those which proceed from a binary understanding of male and female psychological and/or physiological attributes (Steven Goldberg’s Male Dominance Theory, Simon Baron-Cohen’s new Empathising/Systemising Theory and also Carol Gilligan’s Different Voice thesis) all assume that the differential behavioural patterns of men and women display a certain predictable fixity. In response, society should accept and facilitate...

  8. Appendix 1: Examples of important reforms to British law relevant to sex equality
    (pp. 169-174)
  9. Appendix 2: BBC occupational groups by female concentration, sex and pay grade
    (pp. 175-180)
  10. Appendix 3: BBC pay grades
    (pp. 181-182)