Wage inequalities between women and men in Germany – How relevant are occupational sex segregation, gender-typical job tasks and occupational closure for understanding the gender pay gap?

Prof. Dr. Corinna Kleinert, Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories, Bamberg
Prof. Dr. Kathrin Leuze, Leibniz University Hannover

Research staff:
Anna Erika Hägglund, Leibniz University Hannover
Dörthe Gatermann, Leibniz University Hannover
Ann-Christin Bächmann (née Hausmann), Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories, Bamberg

Project summary:

In Germany, the occupational principle is particularly important for shaping the intersection between education and employment and for generating inequalities over the life course. In this project, we study its relevance for the (re-)production of gender inequalities in the labour market.
In the first project phase, we described long-term trends of occupational sex segregation in Germany and analysed how the share of women in an occupation is causally related with other occupational characteristics, such as wage levels, shares of part-time work, and qualification structure. The findings of these analyses were then used to investigate how various occupational characteristics generate individual gender inequalities in career progressions. Thus, the first project phase focused on the importance of occupational sex segregation for non-monetary aspects of labour market inequalities between women and men.
However, previous research has shown that the uneven distribution of women and men across occupations is particularly important for our understanding of the gender wage gap. Many studies indicate that a higher share of women in an occupation leads to lower monetary returns for both women and men working in this occupation. Yet it is far from clear why occupations dominated by women pay less. Is the mere proportion of women responsible for the gender wage gap, or are other occupational characteristics linked to female-typical occupations the decisive mechanisms? If this is true, how has the influence of different occupational characteristics on the gender wage gap changed throughout the last 30 years in Germany?
To answer these questions, we explore in the second phase of our project how the gendered structure of occupations affects the wages of women and men and how this relationship changed since the mid-1970s in Germany. Theoretically, we distinguish three possible mechanisms: (1) the devaluation of job tasks typically considered female, (2) less demand for specialized skills in female-dominated occupations, and (3) higher potentials of occupational closure strategies in male-dominated occupations. The analyses will be based on unique new wage data on the individual level: The first three waves of NEPS Starting Cohort 6 data were linked with register data of the Institute for Employment Research (IAB). Thus they additionally contain rich longitudinal wage and firm information for the respondents. For modelling and decomposing the gender wage gap from 1976 until 2010, we will merge these data with the occupational panel data generated in the first phase of the project. In addition, we will enrich these data with newly generated indicators on occupational task profiles and social closure.

Articles with scientific quality assurance:

  • Althaber, A., Leuze, K. (2020): Der Einfluss der beruflichen Geschlechtersegregation und beruflicher Arbeitszeitarrangements auf Teilzeitarbeit. Gleiche Übergangsbedingungen für Frauen und Männer? Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie 72, 317-349. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11577-020-00666-3.
  • Bächmann, A.-C., Gatermann, D. (2017) The duration of family-related employment interruptions – the role of occupational characteristics. Journal for Labour Market Research 50, 143–160. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12651-017-0226-4.
  • Hägglund, A.-E., Bächmann, A.-C. (2017) Fast Lane or Down the Drain? Does the Occupation Held Prior to Unemployment shape the Transition Back to Work? Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 49 , 32-46. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rssm.2017.03.005.
  • Hausmann, A.-C., Kleinert, C., Leuze, K. (2015): Entwertung von Frauenberufen oder Entwertung von Frauen im Beruf? Eine Längsschnittanalyse zum Zusammenhang von beruflicher Geschlechtersegregation und Lohnentwicklung in Westdeutschland. Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie 67, 217–242. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11577-015-0304-y.
  • Leuze, K., Strauß, S. (2016): Why do occupations dominated by women pay less? How ‘female-typical’ work tasks and working time arrangements affect the gender wage gap among higher education graduates. Work, Employment and Society 30 , 802-820. https://doi.org/10.1177/0950017015624402.

Other publications:

PhD Theses:

  • Anna Erika Hägglund, Leibniz Universität Hannover (Defense February 2019): From Educational Decisions to Labour Market Consequences. Understanding the Interrelation between Sex Segregation and Gender Specific Educational and Employment Trajectories. https://doi.org/10.15488/10374 [https://www.repo.uni-hannover.de/handle/123456789/10448
  • Ann-Christin Bächmann, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (Defense July 2019): Berufliche Geschlechtersegregation und Geschlechterungleichheiten auf dem deutschen Arbeitsmarkt.