women than men now work in occupations seen as
higher status, research in 10 European countries,
including the UK, shows. Dr Robert Blackburn,
of the University of Cambridge, analysed data
on several million European workers and found
that women are now more likely to work in higher-status
occupations, in what he calls a quiet revolution
in the workplace. Dr
Blackburn and two co-authors used official censuses
and labour force surveys on how the sexes are
employed, and compared them to a widely-accepted
and reliable method of determining how high up
the social scale an occupation is rated.
that in the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary,
Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland
and the UK, women tended to predominate in higher-status
occupations. Only in Austria were men more likely
to be found in these occupations. He also found
the same predominance of women in higher-status
occupations in the USA.
concentrates on a snapshot of the data and does
not chart changes over time, but Dr Blackburn,
Emeritus Reader in Sociology and Fellow of Clare
College, said he believed there had been change
in the past half-century from men tending to have
higher status jobs. He said he thought this was
caused by women moving away from manual labour
as the number of manual jobs declines.
working with Dr Girts Racko, also of the University
of Cambridge, and Dr Jennifer Jarman, of the National
University of Singapore, looked at 300 occupations.
Each of these had been independently rated for
its social status using a scale called CAMSIS,
which is acknowledged as reliable by social scientists.
Other research has shown that the jobs that are
higher status also tend to be more interesting
and give the employee more autonomy.
current findings indicating an advantage to women
in terms of the attractiveness of occupations
make clear that this is a fairly general situation,"
Dr Blackburn says in his paper Gender Inequality
at Work in Industrial Countries.
was not always this advantage to women; it is
part of a significant change in industrialised
societies in the last 50 years.
change results from changes in the occupational
structure. Formerly women were more likely than
men to be in manual occupations, but as manual
work has declined, it is predominantly women who
have moved into non-manual jobs, so that now it
is men who are more likely than women to be manual
in the change from manual to non-manual work,
women tended to be employed in low-level non-manual
occupations, especially clerical work. More recently,
they have contributed to the expansion of professional
about the paper, Dr Blackburn, who is an Academician
of the Academy of Social Sciences, said: The
findings are very important, but not widely recognised
until now. A quiet revolution in the workplace
means that the widespread idea that women do the
low status jobs is now wrong in fact they
are more likely to be found working in the sorts
of occupations that both men and women think are
higher up the social scale.
his research did not find that women were paid
better than men the same study found that
in almost all countries men are better paid. This
was largely due to the fact that occupations defined
as higher status were not necessarily those that
paid better. For instance heavy, dirty or dangerous
manual work, done predominantly by men, was better
paid than some higher status non-manual jobs of
women, he said.
it was partly because within each occupation men
tended to be better paid than women, usually because
they were more senior.
Dr Blackburn found was less pronounced for the
UK than in the other nine countries, but was still
statistically significant. By contrast the country
with the greatest advantage to women was Russia,
followed by Sweden.
also found that the advantage to women in terms
of higher status work tended to be less in the
richer countries - those with higher GDP per capita.
will outline his findings at a research seminar
at the University of Cambridge on social stratification
on September 10 .