Thank you to Catalyst  for this important information

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Male-Dominated Occupations Are Those Comprised of 25% or Fewer Women1

Male-dominated industries and occupations are particularly vulnerable to reinforcing harmful stereotypes and creating unfavorable environments that make it even more difficult for women to excel.2

In the United States, only 6.5% of women worked full-time in male-dominated occupations in 2020.3

  • However, the youngest Millennials in the US are less segregated by sex in occupations compared to previous generations.4

Some job growth for women is driven by employment in male-dominated fields.

  • Between 2016 and 2018, women’s employment increased by 5.0% in industries consisting of two-thirds men.5
  • In Australia, women’s employment in civil engineering and software programming has grown steadily over the past decade, outpacing men. 6

But challenges remain: 

  • Despite growth in information and communications technology, since 2010 women’s share of jobs in the sector in the European Union dropped to only 18% in 2019.7
  • Emerging jobs in the Future of Work already show gender gaps globally, especially in growing fields like data and AI (32% women) or cloud computing (14% women) that require disruptive technical skills.8

Women Face Challenges Working in Male-Dominated Workplace Cultures9

Women working in male-dominated industries face a variety of challenges, including:

  • Societal expectations and beliefs about women’s leadership abilities.10
  • Pervasive stereotypes, such as that of the “caring mother”11 or office housekeeper.12
  • Higher stress and anxiety compared to women working in other fields.13
  • Lack of mentoring and career development opportunities.14
  • Sexual harassment.15

Unfortunately, reports of sexual harassment are more prevalent in male-dominated industries.16

  • In a 2017 survey, 28% of women working in male-dominated industries stated they had personally experienced sexual harassment, compared to 20% of women in female-dominated industries.17
  • This heightened level of harassment is a problem even before women enter the workforce. One study found that women pursuing male-dominated university majors experience higher levels of harassment than women earning degrees in gender-equivalent (no more than 60% of a single gender) majors.18

Women use various mechanisms to cope with working in male-dominated work environments, such as:19

  • Distancing themselves from colleagues, especially other women.
  • Accepting masculine cultural norms and acting like “one of the boys,” which exacerbates the problem by contributing to the normalization of this culture.
  • Leaving the industry.
    • Women sexually harassed at work are 6.5 times as likely to change jobs, often to one with lower pay.20

Occupational Segregation Contributes to the Gender Gap21

Women and men remain concentrated in different jobs and fields, a trend known as occupational segregation.22 One research study shows this difference in job types is the primary cause behind the gender pay gap, accounting for more than half of it.23 In the United States, male-dominated occupations generally pay more than female-dominated occupations, even at similar skill levels.24

  • But male-dominated industries aren’t the only sectors with a pay gap: whether an industry is predominantly male or female, or more of an even mix, women still earn less than men in almost all occupations.25
  • Some jobs, such as electricians and construction laborers, have too few women employed to even compare earnings.26

In addition to other Catalyst resources on the pay gap, see Women’s Earnings: The Pay Gap (Quick Take) and The Gender Pay Gap (Ask Catalyst Express).


Industry Total Employed—Percent Women (2019)
Construction 13.3%
Manufacturing, Durables 21.3%
Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction 19.0%
Transportation and Warehousing 22.9%
Utilities 27.5%
Total Employed—Percent Women by Industry (2021) EU-27 France Germany Italy Netherlands Spain Sweden Switzerland UK(2020)
Construction 10.0% 12.5% 15.0% 7.2% 9.9% 8.5% 11.3% 12.5% 13.0%
Manufacturing 29.6% 29.9% 26.4% 24.9% 22.9% 26.9% 25.9% 28.3% 25.8%
Transportation and Storage 21.7% 25.4% 26.3% 19.2% 24.1% 21.2% 19.5% 26.3% 20.4%
United StatesOccupations29
Total Employed—Percent Women (2020) All Women White Women Black Women Asian Women Latinas
Civil Engineers 16.0% 11.8% 0.5% 3.6% 1.2%
Computer Programmers 21.1% 11.3% 2.6% 7.2% 0.7%
Construction Managers 8.4% 6.9% 0.4% 0.5% 1.8%
Driver/Sales Workers and Truck Drivers 7.8% 5.7% 1.5% 0.1% 1.8%
First-Line Supervisors of Construction Trades and Extraction Workers 3.5% 3.1% 0.3% 0.1% 0.5%
Mechanical Engineers 8.7% 5.9% 0.8% 1.7% 0.8%
Software Developers, Applications and Systems Software 19.4% 8.3% 1.4% 8.9% 1.0%
United StatesIndustries30
Total Employed—Percent Women (2020) All Women White Women Black Women Asian Women Latinas
Construction 10.9% 9.5% 0.5% 0.4% 2.1%
Manufacturing 29.5% 9.5% 0.5% 0.4% 2.1%
Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction 14.5% 11.5% 0.1% 2.0% 2.2%
Transportation and Utilities 24.1% 16.4% 5.4% 1.3% 4.4%


Download Resources and Watch Presentation from Please Stay: How Women in Tech Survive and Thrive

Every quarter we have incredibly talented authors present concepts from their books so you can decide if it should be on your read-it next list. Book – Please Stay: How Women in Tech Survive and Thrive Women in technology are primed to claim their well-earned seat at the table. We have heard about the glass ceiling and the broken rung. We are prepared to take action and achieve high-velocity progress. Join us as we take a step forward to change the trajectory of professional careers for women in tech. Debra and Kelley, two technology executives, navigated this profession knocking down barriers and building strong networks. Women are often inspired, but inspiration is not enough as they are asking for workable strategies and techniques they can put in place. Our mission is to provide advice, and just as importantly, to strengthen this community of like-minded professionals to survive and thrive. Technology is changing civilization at an unprecedented pace, and there is no end in sight. Women make up half of the population, and our voices and talents are integral to the success of our businesses and our communities. Join this tribe of women in technology as we create a movement for women in tech to excel, enjoy, and STAY!?

Debra Christmas is a seasoned leader with 40 years experience in the high-tech field managing all aspects of information technology. Prior to joining Gartner Canada, Debra was Vice-President of Hewlett-Packard software technical sales. She has been a Chief Information Officer in the municipal sector. She is a trained Co-Active coach and Leadership Circle certified. She is the founder of Stiletto Gladiators, a not-for-profit consultancy on diversity and inclusion and leadership and mentorship for women in technology.


Kelley Irwin is a technology executive who has led teams as small as five, and as large as eight hundred. She has been blogging publicly for over ten years, most recently as She is a CIO by experience, a martial arts black belt by training, and an optimist by nature.