May, 2015

Explaining the Dynamics of Occupational Segregation by Gender

A Longitudinal Study of the German Vocational Training System of Skilled Crafts
  • Petrik Runst

    Researcher, Institute for Small Business Economics, University of Göttingen
  • Katarzyna Haverkamp

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This chapter examines the dynamics of occupational segregation by gender in the German vocational training system (VET) and explores the validity of two hypotheses regarding the causes of changes in the sex composition of occupations. According to the first, the ‘job growth hypothesis’, feminisation of occupations occurs when women increasingly enter growing employment sectors that are experiencing a shortage of (preferred) male candidates. According to the second, the ‘exit hypothesis’, the movement of men out of selected occupations is the main mechanism driving the changes. Using official data from enrolment into the VET of skilled crafts for the period of 1997–2013, we find a very high level of occupational segregation, a very modest trend toward desegregation and a substantial increase of female representation in a group of selected training occupations. Our analysis implies that the rising share of female apprentices within these fields cannot be explained by an increased entry of young women into growing employment sectors, but that it mainly results from a disproportionate reduction of male participation in select occupations.

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