Who Leads Female-Dominated Fields? Oh Yes, of Course It’s Men.

Let’s talk about the glass elevator and the pervasive myth of women’s choices

Katie Jgln
The Noösphere


Image licensed from Shutterstock

There are two main types of gender segregation in the workplace: horizontal and vertical.

Horizontal segregation refers to the clustering of genders in different career fields — such as women in nursing, teaching and social work and men in construction and engineering. Vertical segregation, on the other hand, refers to the concentration of men at the top levels across all fields.

This division, which some claim is simply the result of our biological hardwiring or factors beyond human control (or both), largely persists to this day, including in countries closest to achieving full gender parity. But even people who aren’t mentally stuck somewhere in the 1950s often fail to grasp why it continues to exist.

The common argument is that it all comes down to women’s choices. If women only chose better, higher-paying opportunities in fields like STEM, for instance, or if women just chose to emulate successful men, there would eventually be a more balanced gender distribution across different professions and leadership positions.

But the crux of the issue doesn’t lie in women’s choices.