Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2000


Published in Great Plains Research 10 (Spring 2000): 169-88. Copyright © 2000 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Despite large increases in the participation of women in the paid labor force, occupational segregation by sex continues to be a significant characteristic of the labor market in the US. To better understand occupational segregation, we developed a new measure of occupational segregation that allows us to identify "female-dominated," "male-dominated," and "integrated" occupations. We use the new measure to examine differences in occupational segregation in the Great Plains states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas, compared with the US as a whole. Our results indicate that more women on the Great Plains are employed than expected, given male employment patterns in the US. However, women on the Great Plains are disproportionately represented in occupational categories that are traditionally "female-dominated." To the extent that female-dominated occupations pay lower wages than male-dominated occupations, women in the Great Plains states suffer lower income levels than women elsewhere in the US.