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O Toward a General Theory of Occupadonal Sex Segregation: The Case of Public School Teaching MYRA H. STROBER Occupational sex segregation has several interrelated dimensions. First, there is seg- regation between paid occupations and those that are unpaidthat is, the percentages of women and men in paid employment are unequal. In 1980 the civilian labor force par- ticipation rate for women over age 20 was 51 percent; for men it was 79 percent (Monthly Labor Review, 1981, 104:60~. Sec- ond, there is segregation across occupations within paid employment: labor market seg- regation. The index of `dissimilarity indicates that in 1977 about 64 percent of American men (or women) would have had to change their occupations in order to achieve equal- ity in the gender distribution across occu- pations (see Lloyd anti Niemi, 1979; Gross, 1968; Blau and Hendricks, 1979~. In few occupations are women represented in ac- cordance with their representation in the labor force as a whole. Third, within any single occupation, women and men are not distributed equally across the occupational hierarchy that is, there is occupational stratification. Women are clustered at the lower levels, men at the upper levels. And this is often true even in occupations that are overwhelmingly female, such as teach- 144 ing and librarianship. Also, men spend less time on housework and child care than do women, and men engage in fewer different household tasks (Walker and Woods, 1976; Robinson, 1977; Stafford and Duncan, 1977~. Although this paper sometimes touches on issues of women's participation in the paid labor force and occupational stratif~- cation, its focus is on the second type of occupational segregation: segregation across occupations within paid employment. A the- ory of occupational segregation by gender within the labor market must deal with three central questions: (1) How does an occu- pation become primarily male or female? (2) Once an occupation is gender typed, what forces help keep it that way? (3) How do occupations change their gender designa- tion? TOWARD A GENERAL THEORY OF OCCUPATIONAL SEX SEGREGATION Extant sociological and economic theories of occupational segregation by gender in the labor market stem Tom remarkably diver- gent world views and locate the causes of segregation in a variety of different actors
TOWARD A GENERAL THEORY OF OCCUPATIONAL SEX SEGREGATION 145 with diverse motivations. ~ Status attainment theory in sociology and human capital the- · . . . . ory In economics pinpoint women s own ~e- havior as the primary cause of their segre- gation into occupations with low status and low pay. Women's own values, behaviors, aspirations, attitudes, sex-role expectations (status attainment theory), educational cre- dentials, and interrupted work histories (hu- man capital theory) are seen as the causes of their occupational designations and low pay rates. Ike view that women's own behavior is central is clearly articulated by Matthaei (1982:194), who argues that job segregation exists because ". . . women wished to work in jobs done by women." Employment in women's work preserved women's sense of their femininity. Kessler-Harris's book (1982) on the history of wage-earning women in the United States, while less exclusively supply-side oriented, also stresses the role of women's choices in producing occupa- tional segregations. Economic theories of discrimination and statistical discrimination, on the other hand, locate the source of inequality of earnings and occupational distribution in employers and their "taste" for discrimination (discrim- ination theory) or their wish to minimize the risk associated with employing women (sta- tistical discrimination theory). Discrimina- tion theory, however, recognizes that the tastes of workers and customers may be im- portant factors contributing to the formation of employers' tastes. The "overcrowding" explanation for occupational segregation builds on the theory of discrimination and points out that, as a result of employers' operationalizing their tastes for exclusion, women are crowded into certain occupa- ~ Sociological theories and those of Marxist econo- mists and feminists are reviewed in Sokoloff (1980~; economic theories are reviewed in Blau and Jusenius (1976), Cain (1976), and Amsden (1980). lions, and women's wages in those occu- pations are thereby depressed. Although the world view of the dual labor market or internal labor market theories is much less oriented toward individual choice and market processes than is neoclassical economics, these theories also locate the source of occupational segregation in em- ployer behavior. Employers create seg- ments in the labor market, either to take advantage of profit opportunities (the view of the non-Marxist dual labor market theo- rists) or to prevent the development of worker solidarity (the view of the Marxists among the dual labor market theorists). Feminists have viewed all of these theo- ries as inadequate, largely because the the- ories have paid insufficient attention to the centrality of gender relations in the society at large. I have argued that, although the profit motive may explain employers' de- sires to augment the division of labor, it does not explain why that division turns into one based on gender (Strober and Best, 19791.2 Hartmann (1976:138) has argued that to ex- plain job segregation by gender one must examine patriarchy as well as capitalism. Hartmann defines patriarchy as "a set of so- cial relations which has a material base and in which there are hierarchical relations be- tween men, and soliclarity among them, which enable them to control women. Pa- triarchy is thus the system of male oppres- sion of women." In Hartmann's view, male capitalists and male workers oppress women. And Hartmann as well as Milkman (1980) point to the role of male worker organiza- tions (i.e., trade unions) in initiating and 2 Blau and Jusenius (1976) noted that "sex is an ob- vious basis for differentiation, due to employers' dis- taste for hiring women in male occupations and/or real or perceived quality differences between male and fe- male labor" (pp. 192-193~. But the unanswered ques- tion remains: Why do employers have a distaste for women, and why do they perceive them as being less qualified, or why are women "less qualified"?
146 MYRA H. STROBER maintaining occupational segregation by gender.3 In addition to these more formal theories of occupational segregation by gender, there are numerous explanations that seek to ex- plain the gender designation of a job in terms of the job's characteristics. Oppenheimer (1970) has hypothesized that women fill those jobs that require relatively high levels of prejob, as opposed to on-thejob, training, such as nursing and teaching. There is also a rich foDdore maintaining that women's jobs are those requiring dexterity or those that women traditionally performed in the home. None ofthese explanations provides a strong basis for a theory of gender segregation be- cause for each hypothesis it is so easy to point to counterexamples. Why are certain occupations that require a great deal of pre- job training, such as law and medicine, "re- served," in the United States, for men? If women are so dexterous, why are there so few female brain surgeons? If jobs that used to be, or are, performed in the home be- come women's jobs in the market, why are most chefs, bakers, and food servers men? Moreover, the difficulty with putting forth a theory of gender segregation based on the inherent characteristics of a job is that the analyst then finds it impossible to explain shifts in gender assignments or differences in the assignment of jobs in different coun- tries. If the major reasons for a particular job assignment are the job's inherent char- acteristics, how can the gender assignment change while the inherent characteristics re- main the same? Or, how can an occupation be assigned to one gender in one industrial- ized country but to the other gender else- where? Neither the formal theories nor the ad hoc explanations offered thus far can answer the three major questions concerning the gen- 3 Rubery (1978), while not mainly interested in sex segregation, has also noted the importance of unions in perpetuating dual labor markets. der designation of an occupation: its origin, its maintenance, and its change, if any. Yet each of the theories and many of the expla- nations contain threads of truth. What I have done is selected the strongest threads from each and woven them into a new theory. Orthodox adherents to various schools of thought may be uncomfortable in finding aspects of their theories woven into a new fabric, but I have purposely borrowed in- sights when their observations contributed to the overall explanation, without too much concern about the insights' ideological par- entage. I call the theory "general" because it may be used to explain the origins, main- tenance, and changes in the gender assign- ment of jobs in general, i.e., for all occu- pations. My theory has two central tenets. It in- corporates the concept of patriarchy, al- though I define patriarchy to make it ap- plicable in a non-Marxist framework. My theory maintains that decisions concerning the gender assignment of jobs are made by men. In particular, I argue that, within the constraints laid down by race and class, it is mate workers who decide which occupations they will inhabit. Male employers set wages and working conditions but, except when the job explicitly or implicitly requires fe- male characteristics, male employers allow male workers to decide which jobs will be theirs. The remaining jobs are offered to women; if sufficient numbers of women do not wish to work in the job, the employer recruits immigrants. Sometimes new jobs appear to be "designed" for women, that is, it appears that men are not given "first dibs" on these jobs. In such cases, employers de- sign the jobs for women and do not offer them to men first because they believe that most men would deem the jobs undesirable relative to existing ones. The second key aspect of my theory is that, in deciding which new jobs to claim for themselves and which jobs to leave for women, male workers (again within the im- portant constraints laid down by race and
TOWARD A GENERAL THEORY OF OCCUPATIONAL SEX SEGREGATION 147 class) attempt to maximize their economic gain. They compare the wages, hours, and working conditions of the new job with those of existing jobs.4 If the new job is superior, they claim it and move in; if not, the job becomes women's work. Thus, whether a particular job in a particular locale is initially male or female is a function of when the job came onto the market. Suppose a technological or organizational change occurs and a new job develops. New plant and equipment are put into place and workers are to be hired. In the short run, in accordance with neoclassical assump- tions, technology and capital are fixed. The employer estimates the product or service demand and determines the need for labor. Based on the existing wage structure of the firm or industry and the wages for similar jobs in the local labor market, he assigns a wage rate to the job and proceeds to ad- vertise for workers. s If "qualified" men show up, they are hired. Qualifications, of course, may well be based on racial and class char- acteristics as well as on objective criteria. Let's take up the caseks) where an insuf- ficient number of men apply for the job. But first let's ask why male capitalists and/or managers give male workers first dibs on jobs. Why should employers use male work- ers for a particular job when they could hire female workers at a lower wage rate? Neo- cIassical theorists such as Arrow (1973) have responded to this question by citing various market rigidities that prevent profit max- imization. Marxist dual labor market theo- rists such as Reich et al. (1973) have im- plicitly argued that capitalists are willing to sacrifice short-term profits for a long-run 4 Blau (1977) points out that within an occupation, men tend to work in high-wage firms and women in low-wage firms. She argues that the high-wage em- ployers are thus able to hire preferred workers men. 5 In this paper I refer to an employer as "he" because I believe that this designation reflects reality and, for purposes of explicating this theory, it is important to consider the gender of employers. strategy that guards against the develop- ment of worker solidarity. I have argued elsewhere (Strober, 1976:295) that ideology, i.e., "social, legal, cultural and economic conventions," includ- ing "subtle pressures from family, employ- ees, customers and 'the community'," have enforced certain hiring taboos preventing employers from attempting to maximize profits. We need to move further and briefly define the concept of patriarchy, for it is patriarchy that is the source of these con- ventions and pressures. Based on Hart- mann's work, I define patriarchy as a set of personal, social, and economic relationships that enable men to have power over women and the services they provide. This is a pre- liminary definition, and I am aware that it needs specificity and refinement.6 One reason for discussing the concept of patriarchy here is to demonstrate that male employers are not simply profit maximizers. They are simultaneously pursuing profit maximization and the maintenance of male privilege; that is, there is a tension between patriarchy and profit maximization. This tension is often latent; indeed, employers may not even be conscious of it. But the fact is that employers permit male workers to choose their jobs because employers want to maintain patriarchy. They recognize that if male privilege is threatened in the work- ing class or among professionals or lower- leve] managers (by allowing women to have jobs that men want), upper-level managers, entrepreneurs, and capitalists would soon 6 It may be, as Whitehead (1979) has suggested, that patriarchy is not the best term to use to describe wom- en's subordination in gender relations. Whitehead ar- gues that the term patriarchy connotes the power of a husband over his wived, children, and property and is only one specific form of male dominance. She has also suggested that the term implies an unchanging, historically constant form of subordination. I use the term here mainly because it has been used in earlier work and do not mean for it to refer only to the rela- tional aspects of gender, nor do I assume it to be his- torically constant.
148 MYRA H. STROBER find their own male privileges under siege. Male employers believe that they benefit from keeping women subordinate to and de- pendent on men in all classes of society, so that women need to be married to men and so that, because of their dependence, women will continue to provide children as well as domestic services for men. Male employers (as well as male workers) recognize that pa- triarchal relations must be maintained at the workplace if they are to remain unthrea- tened in the household. Thus, male man- agers are willing to sacrifice some potential profits by allowing men to choose the jobs they wish. Male managers are wiping to trade offsome profit opportunities to maintain the system of patriarchy. Let us move to the question of how jobs are allocated by gender when an insufficient number of men apply for positions in a new occupation. The employer has several op- tions: (1) raise the wage rate ant] try to at- tract (more) men; (2) hire women who apply andlor encourage (more) women to apply at the existing wage rate; (3) recruit male or female immigrants and hire them at the ex- isting wage rate.7 The option exercised will depend first on how many men have already been hired. If, for example, a "significant" number of the positions have been filled by men, employ- ers may prefer the first option: raising wages and attracting more men, for employers are unlikely to hire women to fill the remaining jobs in an occupation that men have claimed, even if men haven't filled all the job va- cancies. To do so would erode the principles of patriarchy and male privilege. It might also violate societal taboos about the two sexes working together on certain jobs and/or might 7 Of course, to options 2 and 3 could be added options specifying that the wage rate be lowered when re- cruiting women or immigrants. One could argue that during certain periods of our history the decision to recruit blacks was made on grounds similar to the de- cision to recruit immigrants. interfere with male bonding.8 However, some women might be hired, with the explicit or implicit understanding of both employer and employees that although hired they are none- theless not full members of the "group." A sense of marginality might tee conveyed Trough lower pay, ineligibility for promotion, or in- eligibility for membership in the relevant union. Suppose, however, that few men apply for the new jobs at the existing wage rate. If the employer believes that an adequate supply of native male labor can be attracted from other industries or other parts of the country, he may raise the wage rate slightly to attract men. The employer will be more likely to do this if he believes that women may not be interested in holding the job, e.g., because holding such a job might vi- olate existing norms and/or if he believes that native men would perform the job sig- nificantly better than either women or for- eign workers. On the other hand, if financial constraints prevent him from raising wages, and he thinks women can perform the job adequately, he might try to hire women. If having women perform the job in question violates existing societal norms about which jobs are acceptable for women of a particular race or class, so that few women apply, the employer might engage in a campaign to alter those norms. If women's employment in the new occupation violates norms only moderately, the employer's efforts to change the norms would probably be successful and 8 The issue of taboos against the sexes working to- gether needs further investigation. For a discussion of male bonding, see Bradford et al. (1975~. 9 Meyers (1980) has detailed the exclusion of women from the teachers' union in France during the 1890s, when women were a minority of teachers. However, once women became the majority of teachers, the men remaining in the profession saw the need for gender cooperation and permitted women to join the union. Other examples of women's exclusion from unions are given in Hartmann (1976) and Milkman (1980~.
TOWARD A GENERAL THEORY OF OCCUPATIONAL SEX SEGREGATION 149 women would be hired. Norms clearly can be changed, but, except during wartime or times of social revolution, they change fairly slowly. Thus, if according to existing norms a job is considered flagrantly unsuitable for women it is likely that, in the short run, ordinary campaigns to alter these norms would not bring forth an adequate supply of women workers. In such a situation the em- ployer would begin to recruit workers from abroad. A This discussion can be summarized by noting the conditions under which foreign men, or perhaps men from a native racial minority, would be recruited to fill a new occupation: (1) enough native majority men did not apply to fill an occupation; (2) financial constraints prevented the employer from raising the wage and/or the employer did not believe that native majority men would perform the job any better than women or foreign or minority men; and (3) employment of women in the occupation flagrantly vio- lated existing norms. (A discussion of con- ditions under which foreign or minority women might be recruited goes beyond the scope of this initial sketch of the theory.) Next comes the question of the devel- opment of the wage differential between women's and men's jobs. I have arguer! thus far that, if men do not apply for a new job at an existing wage rate and if employers do not decide to raise the wage rate in an effort to attract men from other areas in the nation or from other jobs, employers will offer the job to women at the same rate at which it was offered to men. Suppose then that a sufficient number of women apply and that all ofthe new job slots are filled at the posted wage rate. At this point, if we compare the wage rate earned by women in this job to the wage rate earned by the men who con- sidered taking the job but decided not to, it Alternatively, the employer might turn to a native racial minority. we will find a wage differential, with men earning higher wages than women. After all, one of the reasons why the men declines! the job in question was probably its low rel- ative wage. Thus, within race and class cat- egories, the fact Mat men have the first choice of occupations leads not only to occupational sex segregation but also to a gender wage differential. Patriarchy combined with men's desire to maximize their economic gain leads to higher relative wages for men. As time passes and an occupation be- comes solidly female, employers may lower the wage rate relative to others or fad! to increase it as fast as others, thereby further increasing the gender wage differential. As noted earlier, when a wage rate is first set for a new occupation when employers think that men will enter We occupation the wage rate is set in accordance with the firm's or industry's internal wage structure and in ac- cordance with wages for similar jobs in the local labor market. However, we may hy- pothesize that, once an occupation becomes a female occupation, employers will often lower its wage rate. First, the original wage rate, which was set in comparison to existing male wages, will be too high in comparison to the wages for other female jobs in the firm and in the local labor market. ii Second, employers will see no reason to pay women male rates: women do not "need" the money as much as men, only men require a"family wage" women need only enough income to support themselvesand women, be- cause they are often geographically immo- bile and/or excluded from other higher-pay- ing occupations have a less wage-elastic supply curve than men and therefore can be retained at a lower wage. In the theory I have proposed, women's ii For a discussion of how firms' internal wage struc- tures differ by gender and how job evaluation tech- niques cement these differences, see Treiman and Hartmann (1981~.
150 MYRA H. STROBER job choices play a rather insignificant role. By and large, women move into only those jobs that men leave for them. Turning to the issues of stability and change in the gen- der assignment of occupations, we find that women's opportunities for choice are again overshadowed by men's actions. I do not want to argue that women make no choices at all. They do, and it is interesting to in- vestigate their constrained! choices and the circumstances under which some women are able to contribute to a modest breakdown of occupational segregation. However, like the origin of occupational segregation, the stability and change in that segregation is determined overwhelmingly by men's choices and men's behavior. In recent times, of course, equal employment opportunity leg- islation and affirmative action orders have served to increase women's choices and de- crease the scope of men's exclusionary be- havior. The following discussion, however, examines the dynamics of occupational seg- regation in the absence of legislation and executive and court orders. Once a job has been inhabited by one gender or another, it becomes "typed" as male or female, and strong forces act to maintain its gender assignment. If men oc- cupy an occupation, they might actively and collectively seek to keep women out, fearing that if women enter they will lower the earn- ings of the job by accepting lower wage rates or, if they are paid the same as men, di- minish patriarchal hegemony. For although men act as individual maximizers in choos- ing their occupations, once they begin to work in an occupation and identify with it, they act collectively to maintain its gender designation. It is true, of course, that women will rarely choose to enter a male-typed oc- cupation, fearing a diminution of their per- ceived femininity and thus a reduction of their prospects for marriage, which until re- cently was their primary avenue to eco- nomic gain. Women behave in this way pri- marily because they fear negative sanctions from men not because they have free choice and are rejecting male occupations. When these negative sanctions disappear, e.g., during wartime, women more readily, and often enthusiastically, enter the higher-paid male occupations. If an occupation is occupied by women, the barrier to integration is largely male be- havior. Women put up no resistance to men entering "their" occupations, for they know that if more men enter both the prestige and earnings of the occupation are likely to rise. But men are reluctant to enter female occupations, primarily because of their low wages but also because they fear ridicule by other men and aspersions on their mascu- linity if they do. If both genders initially take part in an occupation, call it X, eventually one of the two will come to dominate. Which gender achieves primacy in X depends on the at- tractiveness of alternative occupations for men. If, as time goes on, X is cleskilled (i. e., requires lower skills) and wages fall, or if new occupations are created that men find more attractive economically, men wile move out of X. On the other hand, if new and existing occupations come to be seen as less attractive economically than X, men will move into X. It is also possible that women will move to other occupations, in which case X may become an occupation for which foreign labor is recruited. One observes that, in the musical chairs of occupational shifts, there is a clear hierarchy of players: men get first choice of job opportunities. One is also impressed with the interdependence of occupational gender assignments. Whether a particular occupation remains gender typed or changes its gender assignment depends not only on its wages and working conditions but also on those in alternative occupations. It seems to be that as occupations shift from one gender designation to another there are important "tipping" points. Once an oc- cupation becomes significantly male (or fe- male), it quickly tips and fairly soon there- after becomes overwhelmingly male (or female). Just what percentage constitutes this
TOWARD A GENERAL THEORY OF OCCUPATIONAL SEX SEGREGATION 151 tipping point probably varies by occupation and historical period. The reasons for the existence of a tipping point are evident from our discussion of the forces that maintain the stability of an oc- cupation's gender designation. Once it is clear that an occupation is significantly male, men actively prevent women from entering and women become reluctant to apply. By the same token, once it is clear that an occu- pation is significantly female, it will be shunned by men. In other words, the ex- pectation that occupations will not be mixed but will be either male or female helps bring about the fulfillment of that expectation. HOW TEACHING BECAME A FEMALE OCCUPATION To what extent can my theory be applied to the case of public school teaching in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centu- ries? Statistics for the nation as a whole on the percentage of women teachers are un- available for the years prior to 1870. In Mas- sachusetts, which was at the vanguard of the movement of women into teaching, women made up 56 percent of the public school personnel in 1834 and 78 percent in 1860 (Vinovskis and Bernard, 1978~. In Ohio, a more typical state with respect to women in teaching, women made up 39 percent of the teachers in 1840 and 46 percent in 1850 (Woody, 1929~. For the United States as a whole, about 60 percent of all teachers were women in 1870. By 1900 the figure was up to 70 percent, and by 1920 it had reached a peak of 86 percent (U.S. Office of Edu- cation's Biennial Survey of Education for 1870, 1900, 19201.~2 These figures conceal considerable vari- ability by geographic region and ruraVurban }2 We Ho major sources of statistics on teachers by gender are the annual and biennial reports of the U. S. Commissioner of Education and the decennial census reports. location. For example, in 1870, when women constituted 60 percent of all teachers na- tionwide, women made up less than half the teacher population in 26 states. In Wash- ington, D.C., women made up 92 percent of the teachers in 1870, but in neighboring Virginia women filled only 35 percent of the teaching jobs. Why did women come to constitute an increasingly larger percentage of teachers in the period from the mid-nineteenth century to the end of World War I? In the context of my theory outlined earlier, the question should be rephrased to read: why did men choose to leave the teaching profession dur- ing that period? We can begin by noting that the latter half of the nineteenth century witnessed a substantial increase in the de- mand for teachers as a result of population growth, increased commitment to universal education, and a desired decrease in the typical number of students in each class. For teaching to have remained a male profes- sion, the percentage of all male workers en- gaged in teaching would have had to be in- creased. Nonetheless, although demand for teach- ers was increasing, school boards were not willing to raise wages to attract male teach- ers. In fact, teachers, especially in rural areas, were paid very low wages, often on a par with those of common laborers. This may have resulted from a disinclination to set high tax rates and/or an ideological deval- uation of education and teachers' roles. On the one hand, the educational requirements (literacy and a working knowledge of the three Rs) demanded of teachers at that time were modest by modern standards. On the other hand, school boards required a native- born middle-class appearance and behavior and good moral character. Nevertheless, it was virtually impossible to support a family with middIe-ciass standards on a teacher's salary. Most men who taught school did so as a stepping stone to another career or on a part-time basis while pursuing other work. Most women who taught school were young
152 MYRA H. STROBER and single with few financial responsibilities for others. Men often taught cluring the win- ter term, when the older boys were in at- tendance, while women were more likely to teach during the summer term. During the latter half of the nineteenth century, although starting somewhat earlier in Massachusetts, teaching began to undergo a revolution in the organization of schools and schooling. The revolution began in ur- ban areas anti spread to the countryside. Schools became more formalized in three important ways. First, as schools grew in size, classes became graded, i.e., children were taught in groups divided by age. Sec- ond, once schools were large and graded, they were bureaucratized. A curriculum was developed for each grade, and a large num- ber of school management functions were required. Third, as a result of a knowledge explosion, the growth of the middle class, and the increasing complexity of work, the high school evolved. Moreover, states be- gan to regulate education, lengthening school terms and formally credentialling teach- ers. Teachers were often required to at- tend summer institutes to maintain their cre- dentials. These changes tended to make teaching less attractive to men. When teaching was a relatively casual occupation that could be engaged in for fairly short periods of time, it was attractive to men in a variety of cir- cumstances. A farmer could easily combine teaching in the winter with caring for his farm during the rest of the year. A potential minister, politician, shopkeeper, or lawyer could teach for a short period of time to gain visibility within the community. However, once standards were raised for teacher cer- tification and school terms were lengthened and combined into a continuous year, men began to drop out of teaching (Morain, 19741. In urban areas, where teaching was first for- malized, and later in rural areas, most men found that the opportunity cost of teaching was simply too great. Even though annual salaries were higher once standards were raised and the school term lengthened, the average teaching salary remained inade- quate to support a family. Men also disliked losing their former classroom autonomy. And at the same time, and perhaps most impor- tantly, attractive job opportunities were de- veloping for men in business and in other ~ - protesslons. As men left teaching, school boards turned more and more toward women. For a va- riety of reasons, women were ready to move into teaching. First, many young women possessed the required education. By the middle of the nineteenth century, women and men had virtually the same literacy rates, and girls were almost as likely to be attend- ing school as were boys.~3 Second, young girls were moving increasingly into the paid workforce. As the production of many goods and services moved out of the home and began to be supplied through the market, the domestic services of young women were less frequently needed by their parents. At first, young women did piecework in their own homes. They also worked as domestics in other people's homes. Finally, when New England mill owners sought young women to work in their factories, young women moved into these positions. But most other jobs were closed to women. Thus, although men were moving out of teaching because i3 Lockridge (1974), using the ability to sign one's name on one's will as a measure of literacy, found that by 1850, except in the South, both men and women over the age of 20 were almost universally literate. The causes of this silent revolution in girls' school attendance is an interesting topic in its own right, for in colonial times girls were generally excluded from district schools. Vinovskis and Bernard (1978) noted that in 1850 in New England about 80 percent of white males and about 75 percent of white females ages 5 to 19 attended school. Attendance rates for 1850 for both sexes and the ratio of female/male school attendance descends, however, as we move through the Middle Atlantic, North Central, South Central, and South At- lantic regions, respectively. In the South Atlantic, about 41 percent of white males and about 35 percent of white females ages 5 to 19 attended school.
TOWARD A GENERAL THEORY OF OCCUPATIONAL SEX SEGREGATION 153 the opportunity cost of remaining was too high, single young women with middie-cIass backgrounds found teaching an attractive al- ternative to other paid work or to remaining at home and assisting with domestic chores. Young women might weD have moved into teaching without any assistance from ideo- logical campaigns. But perhaps to ensure women's interest in teaching or to make their entry more palatable to their parents, future husbands, and pupils, a major ideological crusade was waged in favor of women's entry into teaching. Advocates of women as teach- ers, such as Catharine Beecher, Mary Lyon, Zilpah Grant, Horace Mann, and Henry Barnard, argued that not only were women the ideal teachers of young children (be- cause of their patience and nurturant qual- ities) but also that teaching was ideal prep- aration for motherhood. They also proclaimed the virtues of women's willingness to teach at lower wages than those required by men. Indeed the arguments in favor of women teaching were so compelling that one won- ders how it was that any men remained in teaching. But a few did remain and at higher wages than those paid to women (Strober and Best, 19791. Why didn't teaching become a completely female occupation? And why were the men who remained in teaching paid higher wages than women teachers? It is useful to answer these questions by looking separately at ru- ral and urban labor markets. In rural areas, one-room schoolhouses often persisted even after school terms were lengthened and credentialling was formal- ized at the state level. Women and men tended to do the same job, and the gender wage differential tended to be small, al- though invariably in men's favor. As already noted, prior to the lengthening of the school term, there had generally been two separate short terms, one in the winter and one in the summer. Men tended to teach in the winter term and had the older boys in their class. During the summer term, when men and older boys were engaged in farming, women were generally the teachers. A myth grew that women had more difficulty than men in "handling" the older boys. Thus, it may be that in rural schools men received a pay premium for their supposed discipli- nary abilities. It may also be that on the whole men had more experience in teaching and received a return on that experience. In urban markets, however, the men who remained in teaching did not perform the same jobs as their female counterparts. The labor market for teachers in urban areas was highly stratified, and men had the higher- paying, more prestigious jobs: principals, vice-principals, and high school teachers. That management jobs were reserved for men even in an occupation that was over- whelmingly female is an important obser- vation. It may be that school boards, which perceived women as impermanent mem- bers of the work force, believed they could decrease their management training costs by training only men for managerial posi- tions. However, the fact is that even when women did maintain their attachment to the work force they were rarely trained or hired for management positions, thus suggesting that other considerations beyond training costs were operative in school boards' de- cisions. No doubt a desire for patriarchical hegemony at the local level was a factor in school boards' decision to hire male man- agers for schools and especially for the su- perintendency, a post that brought its in- cumbent into frequent contact with local male leaders in business and politics. What quantitative evidence exists to sup- port this theory? As any cliometrician has by now ascertained, it is not possible to pro- vide a definitive empirical testing of the the- ory put forth here. The required data on alternative wage rates simply do not exist. There is, however, econometric evidence consistent with this theory. In regressions designed to explain the cross-sectional variance in the percentage of women teachers in a sample of counties for 1850 and 1880, Strober and Lanford (1981)
154 MYRA H. STROBER found that the length of the school year and the number of teachers per school both measures of the relative formalization of school were positive and significant de- terminants of the percentage of female teachers. At the same time, the femaTe/male salary differential was found to be lower the greater the percentage of women in teach- ing (Strober and Lanford, 1981~. In pooled cross-sectional regressions for the period 1870-1970, Lanford (as cited in Gordon, 1980) found support for the hypothesis that greater formalization of the educational system in- creased the proportion of female teachers. In a case study of school personnel in San Francisco in 1879, Strober and Best (1979) described their results as follows (p. 2341: Holding education and experience constant, sex played a significant role in determining the po- sition and type of school of employment. We also concluded that education and experience were less important than position and type of school in explaining salary variation by sex and that, holding constant education, experience and po- sition, a greater percentage of the F/M salary ratio stemmed from sex differentials in pay across types of schools than from sex differentials within types of schools. Margo and RotelIa (1981) found for the Houston school system in the 1892-1923 pe- riod that "although some of the prevalence of males in administrative posts and some of the size of the female/male salary differ- ential is explained by differences in expe- rience and education, maleness itself was a valued attribute in school personnel" (p. 20~. In the post-WorId War II period, teach- ing has maintained its gender designation, but the percentage of men in the profession has increased markedly. Moreover, women in teaching are no longer primarily young and unmarried. In 1978 about one-third of all teachers, elementary and secondary com- bined, were men. In high schools in 1978, men constituted slightly more than half of all teachers (54 percent), an increase of about 18 percentage points from the 1945-1946 fig- ure of 36 percent. In elementary schools in 1978, men constituted about 17 percent of all teachers, an increase of about 11 per- centage points from the 1945-1946 figure of 6 percent. The detailed reasons for this change remain to be explored (for a brief discussion, see Tyack and Strober, 1981~. However, my theory suggests that men in- creasingly saw teaching as economically at- tractive (increased unionization has perhaps helped in this regard) and that, in accord- ance with the principle that men should have first choice in job opportunities, those re- sponsible for teacher hiring were happy to readmit them to the profession. CONCLUSION In this paper I have sought to outline a new, general theory of occupational sex seg- regation. The theory suggests that occupa- tional sex segregation as well as the female/ male wage differential results from two ma- jor principles. First, although male employ- ers set wages and working conditions, within the constraints set down by race and class, male employers allow male workers to de- cide which occupations they will inhabit. Second, in deciding which jobs to claim for themselves and which to leave for women, male workers, again within the constraints laid down by race and class, attempt to max- imize their economic gain by comparing the economic package presented by any partic- ular occupation with the economic packages offered by other occupations. Thus, occu- pations become male or female not because of their inherent characteristics but because of the interaction of patriarchy and male workers' utility maximization. I have also used this general theory as a framework for explaining the changes in the gender composition of the teaching profes- sion in the late nineteenth and early twen- tieth century. Stated most simply, teaching became a female occupation largely because men moved out of it. As schools and school- ing became more formalized, teaching be-
TOWARD A GENERAL THEORY OF OCCUPATIONAL SEX SEGREGATION 155 came less attractive to men while at the same time more lucrative job opportunities were developing for men in business and in other professions. Although the quantitative evi- dence summarized in the paper is consistent with the theory, it is difficult to obtain his- torical data that would provide a definitive test of the theory. As notes! earlier, recent changes in equal employment opportunity legislation and af- firmative action orders have complicated the dynamics of occupational sex segregation. Clearly, future theoretical work will need to look carefully at these interventions. Based on what we have learned here, however, we predict that, in order to be successful in changing the gender assignment of jobs, any intervention strategy (such as equal em- ployment opportunity efforts) would have to do more than merely attack hiring and pro- motion rules. It would have to concern itself with gender relations in society as a whole, because patriarchal ideology and supply ant! demand factors in the labor market are inex- tricably interwoven. It would appear that, unless there is widespread agreement on the virtues of breaking down patriarchal re- lations, mate employers and male workers will find ample opportunities for frustrating the goals of governmental interventions in the job market. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The following people provided helpful comments on the first craft of this paper: Alice Amsden, Francine Blau, Martin Car- noy, Regina Cordna, Heidi Hartmann, Henry - Levin, Karen Oppenheim Mason, Aline Quester, Judith Steihm, Joan Talbert, Deb- orah Thresher, ant! David Tyack. REFERENCES Amsden, Alice H. 1980 Introduction. Pp. 11-38 in Alice H. Amsden, ea., The Economics of Women and Work. New York: St. Martin's Press. Arrow, Kenneth 1973 The theory of discrimination. Pp. 3-33 in Orley Ashenfelter and Albert Bees, eds., Discrimi- nation in Labor Markets. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. Blau, Francine D. 1977 Equal Pay in the Office. Lexington, Mass.: D. C. Heath. Blau, Francine D., and Wallace E. Hendricks 1979 Occupational segregation by sex: Trends and prospects. Journal of Human Resources 14:197- 210. Blau, Francine D., and Carol Jusenius 1976 Economists' approaches to sex segregation in the labor market: An appraisal. Pp. 181-199 in Martha Blaxall and Barbara B. Reagan, eds., Women and the Workplace: The Implications of Occupational Segregation. Chicago: Uni- versity of Chicago Press. Bradford, David L., Alice G. Sargent, and Melinda S. Sprague 1975 Executive man and woman: The issue of sex- uality. P. 52 in Francine E. Gordon and Myra H. Strober, eds., Bringing Women into Man- agement. New York: McGraw-Hill. Cain, Glen G. 1976 The challenge of segmented labor market the- ories to orthodox theory: A survey. Journal of Economic Literature 14:1215-1257. Gordon, Audri 1980 A Dynamic Analysis of the Sexual Composition of Public School Teaching: 1870 to 1970. Un- published Ph.D. dissertation, Stanford Uni- versity. Gross, Edward 1968 Plus ca change . . .? The sexual structure of occupations over time. Social Problems 16:198- 208. Hartmann, Heidi I. 1976 Capitalism, patriarchy, and job segregation by sex. Pp. 137-169 in Martha Blaxall and Barbara B. Reagan, eds., Women and the Workplace: The Implications of Occupational Segregation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Kessler-Harris, Alice 1982 Out to Work: A History of Wage-Earning Women in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press. Lloyd, Cynthia B., and Beth T. Niemi 1979 The Economics of Sex Differentials. New York: Columbia University Press. Lockridge, Kenneth 1974 Literacy in Colonial New England: An Enquiry Into the Social Content of Literacy in the Early Modern West. New York: Norton. Margo, Robert A., and Elyce J. Rotella 1981 Sex Differences in the Market for School Per- sonnel: Houston, Texas, 1892-1923. Paper pre- sented at the annual meeting of the Social Sci- ence History Association, Nashville, Tenn., October.
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