What Are the Most Segregated Jobs in America?


The question is why workers have sorted into these roles—and what would happen if the pay gaps narrowed. (Bloomberg)

What are the best jobs in America?

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More than 99% of brick masons are men, making it one of the jobs most segregated by gender in the U.S. The job is not as segregated by ethnicity. About 45% of brick masons are Hispanic or Latino, 6% are African American, and less than 1% are Asian American.
Photograph by Nikon D3000, courtesy Max Pixel

Discussion Ideas

  • The fascinating Bloomberg article outlines the jobs “most segregated by gender and race” in the U.S. What does “segregated” mean in this context?
    • “Segregated” refers to jobs in which a specific ethnicity or gender makes up a high percentage of workers.
      • In this context, segregation does not refer to formal or informal laws that prohibit a group of people from working or entering a specific place.


  • Take a look at these statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the figures on which the Bloomberg article is based. What are some of the most male-dominated jobs in the U.S.?
    • More than 99.5% of all U.S. masons and heavy-vehicle equipment technicians are men. Other male dominated professions include loggers, glaziers, roofers, carpenters, plumbers, and aircraft mechanics.


  • What are some of the most female-dominated jobs in the U.S.?
    • More than 97% of speech-language pathologists, dental hygenists, and preK and kindergarten teachers are women. Other female-dominated professions include nurses, cosmetologists, maids, and clerks.


  • What are some of the most gender-balanced jobs in the U.S.?
    • Men and women nearly equally occupy the positions of computer operators, packaging machine fillers, and electromechanic assembly workers.


  • What distinguishes gender-segregated jobs from more gender-balanced jobs?
    • Male-dominated jobs tend to rely on greater strength, being outdoors, and working with tools and machinery than female-dominated jobs.
    • Female-dominated jobs tend to rely on working with people and service sectors more than male-dominated jobs.
    • Although male-dominated jobs tend to pay more than female-dominated jobs, both pay far less than gender-balanced jobs. In other words, Bloomberg stresses, “jobs that don’t have such extreme gender imbalances pay better.



  • What distinguishes white-dominated jobs from jobs in which a plurality of workers are people of color?
    • “Jobs White People Do” tend to be a lot more lucrative. The average salaries for occupations with the highest percentage of white workers are nearly $120,000—more than twice above the natural average.


  • Does this mean white people are paid more than people of color?
    • No. It means the professions most dominated by white people tend to pay more than jobs dominated by African Americans, Asians, or Latinos.


  • Why do jobs dominated by white people tend to pay more?
    • Lots of reasons, most of them having to do with equity and access: access to people with representation and influence in the relevant field; access to education and training relevant to the field; and access to economic, cultural, and social justice resources that encourage participation in the relevant field.


  • Do you know anyone working in a job largely segregated by gender or ethnicity?
    • Are they part of the majority or minority group?
    • If part of the minority group, did they face difficulty accessing the education or training necessary for the job? Have they ever felt self-conscious in their position? Would they encourage others of their gender or ethnicity to pursue careers in the field?
    • If part of the majority group, have they worked to make their job market more inclusive and diverse? How?


NGS Picture Id:1549395
We love this photo of a woman and her boyfriend repairing her dump truck in Williston, North Dakota. Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians are more than 99% male.
Photograph by Eugene Richards, National Geographic



Bloomberg: The Jobs Most Segregated by Gender and Race

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey

Nat Geo: The 100 Best Jobs in America

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