Gender Differences in Occupation Choice


Power, occupation, rights and education have always been unequal between men and women. Individuals choosing an occupation consider various things such as qualifications, education, satisfaction, emotions, convenience, and income. Males and females weigh these categories differently (Murray, Linden, & Kendall, 2017).

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In 2011, Statistics Canada estimated the employment rate for the population above the age of 15 was 60.9% (Statistics Canada, 2018). According Statistics Canada (2007) 59% of women eligible for to work were employed compared to the 68% of men eligible. Another finding from Statistics Canada displayed on average, men work approximately 6 more hours more than women, averaging around 39.

5 hours where as women work around 33.2 hours at their main job (Statistics Canada, 2007). The Canadian Women’s Foundation (2018) stated 43% of women leave their job when they have children. Also, a comparison in the wage gap between genders in 2016 was made the findings showed working women make an average of 69 cents for every dollar working men earn (Canadian Women’s Foundation, 2018). Gender distributions throughout occupations are unequal. According to the United States Department of Labour (2011), females dominate the following occupations: dental hygienists, registered nurses and teachers.

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Whereas men dominate the occupations of software developers, physicians and mechanics (United States Department of Labour, 2011). Despite the male advantages in the labour force, according to Miao, Li, and Bian (2017) majority of women are more satisfied with their occupations than men (Miao, Li, & Bian, 2017). This paper provides evidence gender plays a role in occupation selection through examining the difference of male and female socialization, ambition.


Individuals in society are constantly interacting with others that shape them into who they are (Murray, Linden, & Kendall, 2017). Parents socialize their children according to their sex which impacts their occupational pathway. Growing up, women are taught to be gentle, cooperative, and thoughtful and men are taught to be strong and competitive. As children are able to do house chores, they are assigned differently depending if they are a boy or girl. Boys do maintenance chores such as mowing the lawn and girls do domestic chores such as cooking and cleaning (Murray, Linden, & Kendall, 2017). Gender inequalities continue to be present in the education system due to power relations. Gender bias is evident with teachers favouring one gender over the other. In the education system, females and males are taught, trained and guided differently. Currently, the education system lacks gender sensitivity, research on women’s careers, reducing the wage gap and establishing status for women. Teachers are not given much guidance to promote gender equality in curriculum. This has led to the segregation of occupational fields (Brunila & Ylöstalo, 2015). Through peer socialization, boys and girls are influenced to behave differently. The pressure for boys to do “masculine” activities is much greater than the pressure for girls to do “feminine” activities. Moreover, the gender differences in the media have an effect on occupational pathways. Men are seen to hold high positions such as the president or CEO in large companies. Majority of the time women are seen in secondary roles as secretaries or teachers. This creates a lack of female role models for young girls (Murray, Linden, & Kendall, 2017).

Throughout an individual’s life time, they are shaped by society to behave a certain way according to their gender. When presented with social cues, women are more sensitive to determining appropriate responses and have better means of communicating than men do. Women are more concerned with equalizing opportunities, where men are more concerned with maximizing efficiency. Furthermore, women find greater job satisfaction when working with others which inclines them to work service-oriented occupations. (Croson & Gneezy, 2009). A study by Manwai (2011) found men and women prefer different specialities in occupation specifically in medicine, which highlights the concept of gender segregation amongst occupations. Women in the occupation are usually centred in family practices and pediatrics, with often lower pay. They expressed more concerns about patient quality of care. Men in the occupation are concentrated in surgery or radiology, expressing more worry for income and prestige. In regards to rewards, women are more appealed to intrinsic awards like helping others, as opposed to men who like extrinsic awards such as raises. (Manwai, 2011). Socialization is key to the occupational pathway of genders.


When choosing an occupation, men are more inclined to part-take in risky behaviour.

According to Croson and Gneezy (2009), men make fast and instinctive decisions that benefit themselves where as women take a more reasoned approach. Men feel more confidently that they will have success in uncertain situations than women. Therefore, men see opportunities as a challenge and are inclined to apply for jobs that are more competitive. However, women report feeling fear of threat and negativity towards taking risks and uncertain outcomes. This reflects in their occupational pathway; women are less concerned with rapid job promotion (Croson & Gneezy, 2009). Nair (2014) found men are more concerned with progressing in their jobs where as women choose positions where they are able to reconcile and have more flexibility when family and other obligations occur. Therefore, women are inclined to choose less demanding jobs. Men work to provide for their family and women have to balance a job while taking care of their family. Women prefer work in more geographically convenient areas to maximize the work-family convenience. Also, women tend to accept lower level jobs despite being more educated than men. This makes them less likely to achieve career advancement and fewer opportunities for job training. Women obtain more part time positions, stopping them from moving up and receiving more training. Priorities of men and women are different; for women it revolves around the family and for men it is about work (Nair, 2014). Both genders have the ambition to achieve their goals, but between genders the goals are different. Females choose work according to family plans and males choose work more for prestige and to support their families.


This paper provides evidence that there is a difference between female and male occupational preferences. The evidence shows socialization by parents, education systems, peers and media and additionally, individual ambition, influence the gender difference in occupations. Women and men are predisposed to engage in certain occupations and conform to societal norms. Women acquire service-oriented occupations with high social rewards and men want occupations involving leadership and instrumental roles. Women prioritize family over work, whereas men are work-oriented. There has always been inequality between men and women in the labour force. By identifying these factors and making them known, it is possible to lessen the gap and allow women and men to pursue any occupation freely.

According to the statistic in statistics Canada women and men. I hope this paper was a good reflection of why genders choose different occupations.


  1. Brunila, K., & Ylöstalo, H. (2015). Challenging gender inequalities in education and in working 
 life – a mission possible? Journal of Education and Work, 28(5), 443-460. 
  2. Canadian Women’s Foundation. (2018, August). The facts about the gender wage gap in Canada. 
 Retrieved from
  3. Croson, R., & Gneezy, U. (2009). Gender differences in preferences. Journal of Economic 
 Literature, 47(2), 448-474. doi:10.1257/jel.47.2.448
  4. Miao, Y., Li, L., & Bian, Y. (2017). Gender differences in job quality and job satisfaction among 
 doctors in rural western China. BMC health services research, 17(1), 848. 
  5. Murray, J., Linden, R., & Kendall, D. (2017). Sociology in Our Times. Toronto, ON: Nelson.
  6. Nair, S. K. (2014). Gender imbalance. Journal of Multidisciplinary Research, 6(3), 67-72.
  7. Statistics Canada. (2018, March 17). Portrait of Canada’s labour force. Retrieved from
  8. United States Department of Labour. (2011). Occupations by gender shares of employment. 
 Retrieved from

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Gender Differences in Occupation Choice. (2021, Apr 06). Retrieved from

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