Knowledge Center

A non-traditional or male-dominated industry or occupation contains 25% or less women in total employment.1 While women have made headway into certain industries and occupations, there is still a great gap between women and men in many industries and occupations.2

Sex segregation persists in the labor force despite shifts over recent years that have desegregated certain occupations from being dominated by one gender. Women continue to be highly overrepresented in clerical, service, and health-related occupations, while men tend to be over overrepresented in craft, operator, and laborer jobs.3

Male-dominated industries provide particular challenges for women’s advancement. Catalyst research has found that talent management systems are frequently vulnerable to pro-male biases that inevitably result in less diverse employee pools. Because senior leadership teams, which tend to be dominated by men, set the tone for talent management norms, masculine stereotypes can creep into HR tools. Employees who meet criteria (potentially based on masculine stereotypes) are selected for promotion and/or tapped as future leaders and/or offered development opportunities. Because male-dominated industries and occupations tend to be particularly vulnerable to masculine stereotypes due to lack of diversity, women may find excelling in these industries or occupations to be particularly difficult.4

Some examples of male dominated industries include:

  • Construction5
  • Mining6
  • Oil and gas7
  • Utilities8
MALE-DOMINATED INDUSTRIES IN CANADA AND THE U.S.
Industry Women’s Share in Canada, 20119 Women’s Share in U.S., 201110
Construction 11.2% 9.0%
Fishing, Hunting, and Trapping 16.0% N/A
Forestry and Logging with Support Activities 14.8% N/A
Mining (including oil and gas extraction) 19.0% 13.2%
Utilities 24.7% 23.3%

 

 

 

 

Occupations Dominated by One Gender

The following occupations are the most male-dominated occupations in Canada with 5,000 people or more. Less than 2% of the employees in all of these occupations are women.

 

10 MOST MALE-DOMINATED OCCUPATIONS IN CANADA11
Occupation Total Number of People in Occupation Share of Women Employees
Bricklayers 18,885 1.1%
Heavy-duty Equipment Mechanics 39,140 1.1%
Concrete Finishers 11,440 1.2%
Other Small Engine and Equipment Mechanics 6,815 1.2%
Gas Fitters 5,650 1.4%
Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanics 22,240 1.4%
Construction Millwrights and Industrial Mechanics (Except Textile) 75,900 1.5%
Electricians (Except Industrial and Power System) 72,390 1.6%
Industrial Electricians 29,960 1.7%
Steamfitters, Pipefitters, and Sprinkle System Installers 22,190 1.7%

 

The following occupations with 50,000 people or more are the most male-dominated occupations in the U.S. Less than 2% of the employees in all of these occupations are women.

10 MOST MALE-DOMINATED OCCUPATIONS IN THE U.S.12
Occupation Total Number of People in Occupation Share of Women Employees
Brickmasons, Blockmasons, and Stonemasons 162,000 0.1%
Cement Masons, Concrete Finishers, and Terrazzo Workers 88,000 0.3%
Electrical Power Line Installers and Repairers 124,000 0.4%
Carpet, Floor, and Tile Installers and Finishers 209,000 0.5%
Heating, Air Conditioning, Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers 392,000 0.6%
Structure Iron and Rebar Workers 59,000 0.6%
Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists 339,000 0.7%
Miscellaneous Vehicle and Mobile Equipment  Mechanics, Installers, and Repairers 99,000 0.8%
Tool and Die Makers 68,000 0.9%
Roofers 214,000 1.0%

 

Female-Dominated Occupations

The following occupations with 5,000 people or more are heavily dominated by women; women make up the vast majority in each occupation.

TEN MOST PREVALENT OCCUPATIONS FOR EMPLOYED WOMEN IN CANADA 200613
Occupation Total Number of People in Occupation Women’s Share of Occupation
Secretaries 308,565 97.9%
Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists 17,460 97.2%
Early Childhood Educators and Assistants 170,340 96.4%
Court Recorders and Medical Transcriptionists 7,760 96.1%
Dietitians and Nutritionists 8,750 94.8%
Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists 7,375 94.1%
Babysitters, Nannies, and Parents’ Helpers 69,785 94.0%
Receptionists and Switchboard Operators 146,320 93.8%
Nurse Supervisors and Registered Nurses 279,725 93.7%
Estheticians, Electrologists, and Related Occupations 37,590 93.6%

 

Women make up the majority of employees in the following occupations in the U.S

TEN MOST PREVALENT OCCUPATIONS FOR EMPLOYED WOMEN IN THE U.S., 201014
Occupation Total Number of People in Occupation Women’s Share of Occupation
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants 3,082,000 96.1%
Childcare Workers 1,247,000 94.7%
Receptionists and Information Clerks 1,281,000 92.7%
Teacher Assistants 966,000 92.4%
Registered Nurses 2,843,000 91.1%
Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks 1,297,000 90.9%
Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners 1,407,000 89.0%
Nursing, Psychiatric, and Home Health Aides 1,928,000 88.2%
Personal and Home Care Aides 973,000 86.1%
Office Clerks, General 994,000 84.2%

 

Women and Men in Occupations in OECD Countries

  • Women tend to work in a much narrower range of occupations than men; according to a report by the OECD, half of all women work in eleven or fewer of the major occupation groups.15
  • However, half of the men work in more than twenty of these occupations.16
  • Gender gaps in occupations are particularly marked in the United States, Italy, Ireland, Greece and the United Kingdom compared to other OECD countries.17
FEMALE DOMINATED OCCUPATIONS IN 20 OECD COUNTRIES18
Women Occupations Women to Men Ratio*
Pre-primary Education Teaching Associate Professionals 14.5 : 1
Nursing and Midwifery Professionals 10.1 : 1
Secretaries and Keyboard-operating Clerks 9.8 : 1
Nursing and Midwifery Associate Professionals 9.5 : 1
Personal Care and Related Workers 9.3 : 1
Primary Education Teaching Associate Professionals 6.2 : 1
Shop, Stall and Market Salespersons and Demonstrators 5.8 : 1
Special Education Teaching Professionals 5.6 : 1
Domestic and Related Helpers, Cleaners and Launderers 5.4 : 1
Primary and Pre-primary Education Teaching 5.3 : 1

*The ratio of women employees to male employees. For example, there are over 14 women working in "Pre-primary education teaching associate professionals," for every man in the occupation.

MALE DOMINATED OCCUPATIONS IN 20 OECD COUNTRIES19
Men Occupations Men to Women Ratio
Miners, Shot Firers, Stone Cutters and Carvers 80.2 : 1
Building Frame and Related Trades Workers 64.8 : 1
Ships’ Deck Crews and Related Workers 52.9 : 1
Building Finishers and Related Trades Workers 35.4 : 1
Mining and Construction Labourers 35.3 : 1
Agricultural and Other Mobile Plant Operators 30.5 : 1
Mining and Mineral-Processing-Plant Operators 24.5 : 1
Metal Moulders, Welders, Sheet-Metal Workers, Structural-Metal Preparers, and Related Trades Workers 23.1 : 1
Machinery Mechanics and Fitters 21.7 : 1
Power-Production and Related Plant Operators 15.9 : 1

 

Catalyst Award Winners

The Catalyst Award annually honors innovative organizational approaches with proven, measurable results that address the recruitment, development, and advancement of all women, including women of color.

Four of the companies that won the Catalyst Award were in male-dominated industries.

  • CH2M Hill (2009) 20
  • Nissan (2008) 21
  • BP (2006)22
  • Georgia Pacific (2005) 23
  • Harley-Davidson, Inc. (2004)24

How to cite this product: Catalyst. Catalyst Quick Take: Women in Male-Dominated Industries and Occupations in U.S. and Canada. New York: Catalyst, 2013.