Skip to main content


Cohen, Philip N. & Huffman, Matt L. (2003). Occupational Segregation and the Devaluation of Women's Work across U.S. Labor Markets. Social Forces, 81(3), 881-908.


Previous research on the devaluation of women's work has investigated whether the net effect of gender composition varies across jobs and organizational settings. We extend that research by using hierarchical linear models that combine data from a random sample of U.S. work establishments with metropolitan-area data to explore whether macro-level gender inequality also influences the tendency to devalue women's work roles. Thus, we offer the first attempt to examine processes that lead to organizational gender inequality in local labor market contexts. Specifically, we hypothesize that gender devaluation will be strongest in highly gender-segregated labor markets. One reason for this may be that in segregated markets, men are in a stronger position to benefit from devaluation while women are less able to resist it. The results strongly support this hypothesis: Higher levels of occupational segregation at the labor market level are associated with a significantly increased tendency to devalue women's work roles. This finding is not explained by a diverse set of controls at both the establishment and local labor market level. Our findings highlight an additional way that gender segregation intensifies labor market inequality.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Social Forces


Cohen, Philip N.
Huffman, Matt L.