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.