Women are segregated into the worst Jobs, aren’t they?
While we have seen that twenty-four out of the twenty-five worst jobs are male jobs3* and that many men also have low-pay jobs (busboy, doorman, dishwasher, gas station attendant, etc.), many of the lowest-paid jobs are predominantly occupied by women. Why the distinction between the worst and low-paid jobs? Because many of the low-paid jobs are low-paid because they are safer, have higher fulfillment, more flexible hours, and other desirable characteristics that make them more in demand and therefore lower in pay. When either sex chooses jobs with these desirable characteristics, they can expect low pay. Women are much more likely to choose jobs with seven of these eight characteristics – what might be called the "female occupations formula."
The female occupations formula
Women now constitute 15-30 percent of a few of the high-pressure, highly skilled, and highly paid professions such as law and medicine. But occupations which employ more than 90 percent women almost always have in common at least seven of the following eight characteristics. The combination of all seven characteristics makes the job high in desirability – so high that an employer has more than enough qualified applicants and, therefore, does not need to pay as much.
► Ability to psychologically "check out" at the end of day (department store clerk versus lawyer)
► Physical safety (receptionist versus fire fighter)
► Indoors (secretary versus garbage collector)
► Low risk (file clerk versus venture capitalist)
► Desirable or flexible hours (nurse versus medical doctor)
► No demands to mote out of town or else i. e. to "move it or lose it" (corporate secretary versus corporate executive)
► High fulfillment relative to training (child-care professional versus coal miner)
► Contact with people in a pleasant environment (restaurant hostess versus long-distance trucker)
Note how this female occupations formula applies to the more than 90 percent female professions of receptionist, secretary, child-care professional, nurse, and department-store clerk or salesperson.
The exposure professions
After exposure to death, exposure to the elements is the most common hazard of male jobs. The hole in the ozone layer makes daily exposure to sun the equivalent of exposure to cancer. Just as the fire fighter s newest hazard is invisible, so the construction worker’s newest hazard is invisible. And as for the road worker or garbage collector, well, not only does he take in ultraviolet rays through his skin but car fumes through his nose. All of which add the exposure professions to our list of death professions.
The more a worker’s beat requires exposure to the sleet and the heat, the more likely is the worker to be a man. ditch digging, previously the work of chain gangs of prisoners, was protested as exploitive of prisoners.36 It is not protested as exploitive of men. The gas station attendant who pumps gas in the rain is most likely male (whereas the one collecting money indoors can be of either sex). Be it roofing or welding, if it is an exposure profession, it is a male profession.
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In brief, then, it is a myth that women are segregated into the worst jobs. Jobs that require few skills and few hazards pay less and jobs that have high fulfillment pay less – to either sex. The worst jobs are almost all male jobs, which men take more because they have, on average, more mouths to feed.
What is our investment in making men the disposable sex?
Lening men die is a money-saving device. Safety costs money. When contractors bid low to get a job, they need to pressure men to complete work lest they go bankrupt. As one safety official put it, "When everything is hurry, hurry, hurry, when you start pressuring people and taking shortcuts, things can go wrong. And then people die."37 No. And then men die. How many of us work in an office building in which a man’s life or limbs were lost?
The solution? Stria enforcement of safety – standards. Why the emphasis on enforcement? The safety – standards are good; it is the enforcement that is had. It is only when government enforces safety standards that the companies which incur safety costs do not saddle themselves with a burden that undermines their ability to compete. The alternative is what we are doing now: "selecting for” the survival of those companies that take shortcuts with men’s lives.