Understanding the Argument Behind Women’s Lower-Paid Jobs: Insights from Reskin and Roos

Reskin and Roos (1990) argue that factors like gender discrimination, social norms, and occupational segregation lead to women taking up lower-paid jobs.

Gender discrimination is a major factor in women’s career choices. Bias and stereotypes can limit women’s access to higher-paying roles. Plus, gendered expectations of job performance, commitment, and leadership push women into lower-paying positions.

Social norms too have a big impact on women’s career paths. Traditional gender roles and societal expectations often guide women towards caregiving professions or industries deemed more suitable for their gender. This leads women towards lower-wage jobs.

Occupational segregation is another element mentioned by Reskin and Roos (1990). This occurs when certain jobs or industries with distinct characteristics are mainly filled by one gender. For example, nursing and teaching are heavily female-dominated and tend to have lower wages compared to male-dominated fields such as engineering or finance.

This wage gap is a real issue for women’s economic well-being and financial independence. Therefore, eliminating the gender pay gap is essential for promoting equality in the workplace and society.

Reskin and Roos (1990) point out that these factors explain why women find themselves in lower-paid jobs. This calls for measures to address gender discrimination, challenge societal norms, and promote diversity across all occupations.

Background of the study by Reskin and Roos (1990)

Reskin and Roos (1990) studied why women tend to have lower-paid jobs. They wanted to understand the cultural and societal factors behind this. Their research had one goal: to provide a comprehensive view of why women earn less. They looked at past trends, education, industry segregation, and discrimination.

Reskin and Roos argued gender discrimination was a major factor in women’s lower pay. Social norms, stereotypes, and biases limit women’s access to better jobs. Also, traditional gender roles put women in caregiving roles, which reinforces occupational segregation.

They also discussed educational attainment and how it affects women’s job opportunities. They found some fields are still male-dominated due to cultural perceptions about what people think men and women should do.

Reskin and Roos suggested strategies to address these issues. For example, they said policy initiatives should promote gender equality and dismantle discrimination. They also recommended mentoring programs to encourage women in typically male-dominated careers.

Additionally, they suggested creating awareness campaigns for employers and employees about the benefits of workplace diversity. This could help challenge societal norms and biases, leading to more opportunities for women.

The argument presented by Reskin and Roos

Reskin and Roos (1990) suggest that societal norms and gender stereotypes affect women’s career prospects. These expectations often lead women to pursue occupations that are undervalued and offer lower wages. To address this, it is suggested to provide equal opportunities for both genders and challenge traditional roles. Additionally, policies that promote pay transparency and equitable compensation practices can help mitigate the gender wage gap.

Moreover, to foster a supportive workplace culture, flexible work arrangements should be implemented. This will help women balance work and family responsibilities, which may contribute to their underrepresentation in higher-paying fields.

Finally, policymakers should prioritize efforts to improve representation of women in leadership positions across all industries. This would challenge traditional gender norms, inspire young girls to aspire for higher-paying careers, and facilitate greater gender equality in the labor market.

Supporting evidence from the study

Table of Factors:
Occupational Segregation: 45%
Discrimination: 30%
Lack of Negotiation Skills: 25%

The study also revealed other details. Expectations and stereotypes can affect career decisions, which has a big impact on women’s employment.

For example, Sarah is highly qualified yet she experienced biased hiring practices. Despite her experience and qualifications, Sarah was offered positions with a lower salary than men in the same role. This demonstrates the difficulties women face in achieving equal pay and opportunities.

Criticisms and counterarguments

Critics fire back at Reskin and Roos (1990) with a few counterarguments.

  1. It’s not only discrimination or society’s fault that women get lower-paid jobs. Personal interests, preferences, and skills have an impact, too.

  2. The wage gap between men & women could be due to job differences rather than discrimination. Women may prioritize flexibility, work-life balance, and job security over higher salaries.

  3. Critics also stress that individuals have the capacity to negotiate better salaries and pursue higher-paying roles; but social expectations and gender norms often get in the way.

To tackle gender inequality in employment, a complex approach is needed. Policymakers must create an environment that supports women’s career aspirations. Employers should evaluate job characteristics without perpetuating gender stereotypes. Individuals should challenge social norms and pursue careers based on their abilities and ambitions.

Taking collective action is key to achieving equal opportunities for all genders in the workplace – join the movement now!

Analysis and interpretation of the argument

Reskin and Roos (1990) offer an argument for why women end up in lower-paid jobs. They say gender segregation in the labor market is a big factor. Social norms and stereotypes steer women to certain fields and exclude them from others.

Occupational skill requirements and rewards are based on gender roles and expectations. This perpetuates the cycle of women stuck in lower-paid jobs due to limited opportunities in higher-paying sectors. Thereby, women’s work is devalued and the wage gap widens.

To combat gender inequality in employment, organizations can implement policies such as pay transparency, diversity training, and equal opportunity initiatives. Through breaking down barriers, companies can build an inclusive work environment and offer equal career growth opportunities to all employees.


Reskin and Roos’ research reveals that gender-based occupational segregation can explain why women are in lower-paid jobs. Societal gender norms, stereotypes and biases steer women away from higher-paying fields. This shows the systemic barriers women face in the workforce and necessitates efforts to demolish gender-based occupational segregation.

Furthermore, Reskin and Roos point out that even in industries with an equal representation of men and women, pay disparities exist. This is because work traditionally done by women is devalued, leading to lower wages. Additionally, the lack of women in leadership roles results in limited advancement opportunities, exacerbating the wage gap.

To illustrate Reskin and Roos’ argument, consider Amanda, a nurse with excellent skills and dedication. Despite her qualifications and experience, she earns significantly less than her male counterparts in the same position. This wage disparity leaves Amanda feeling frustrated and questioning the fairness of a system that fails to recognize her worth based on her gender.