This issue brief reviews the literature on barriers to entry into non-traditional occupations for women and addresses some policy tools and strategies for reducing barriers, thus creating equal access to opportunities.
Non-traditional occupations (NTOs) for women are defined as those for which females comprise less than 25 percent of those employed in the occupation. Occupational segregation – men primarily working in occupations typically performed by men and women primarily working in occupations typically performed by women – is a persistent feature of the U.S. labor market.
According to 2014 data from the United States Department of Labor, women represented less than 25 percent of workers in more than 125 occupations and less than 10 percent of workers in more than 75 even more segregated occupations.
Barriers that discourage or prevent women from entering NTOs (e.g., engineering, construction mangers, software developers and computer installation, welding technology) limit their access to high-paying jobs and exaccerbate the gender wage gap.