Does Rosie Like Riveting? Male and Female Occupational Choices

Grace Lordan, Jörn-Steffen Pischke

NBER Working Paper No. 22495
Issued in August 2016
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies

Occupational segregation and pay gaps by gender remain large while many of the constraints traditionally believed to be responsible for these gaps have weakened over time. Here, we explore the possibility that women and men have different tastes for the content of the work they do. We run regressions of job satisfaction on the share of males in an occupation. Overall, there is a strong negative relationship between female satisfaction and the share of males. This relationship is fairly stable across different specifications and contexts, and the magnitude of the association is not attenuated by personal characteristics or other occupation averages. Notably, the effect is muted for women but largely unchanged for men when we include three measures that proxy the content and context of the work in an occupation, which we label ‘people,’ ‘brains,’ and ‘brawn.’ These results suggest that women may care more about job content, and this is a possible factor preventing them from entering some male dominated professions. We continue to find a strong negative relationship between female satisfaction and the occupation level share of males in a separate analysis that includes share of males in the firm. This suggests that we are not just picking up differences in the work environment, although these seem to play an independent and important role as well.

download in pdf format
   (338 K)

email paper

Supplementary materials for this paper:

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22495

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Baker and Cornelson w22248 Gender Based Occupational Segregation and Sex Differences in Sensory, Motor and Spatial Aptitudes
Valero and Van Reenen w22501 The Economic Impact of Universities: Evidence from Across the Globe
Wiswall and Zafar w22173 Preference for the Workplace, Human Capital, and Gender
Lordan and Neumark w23667 People Versus Machines: The Impact of Minimum Wages on Automatable Jobs
Levitt w22487 Heads or Tails: The Impact of a Coin Toss on Major Life Decisions and Subsequent Happiness
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us