Understanding the self-organization of occupational sex segregation with mobility networks

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

May 15, 2023


Decades after the beginning of the gender revolution, most women and men still work in sex-typed occupations. This is a primary driver of the gender wage gap. Most research describing the patterns of occupational sex segregation focuses on supposedly innate job characteristics that match gender stereotypical abilities and preferences, such as the use of mathematical skills or social skills, on income and status differences between occupations, and on organizational job characteristics, for example, the need to work long hours. However, beyond such occupational attributes, sex segregation is hypothesized to exhibit emergent patterns that are linked to the interdependent job mobility of women and men, in particular, men selectively leaving feminizing occupations. Developing new tools inspired by statistical network research, and using representative, longitudinal data that contain detailed occupational mobility from the UK between 2000 and 2008, this replacement mechanism is analyzed. It is shown that 19–28% of observed sex segregation is linked to this emergent phenomenon in a statistical model that disentangles the various predictors of the allocation of women and men to different occupations. This makes it the most important predictor of segregation in contrast to concurrently modelled explanations based on occupational characteristics.

Published in

Social Networks

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 73 , p.42 -50








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