Horizontal and Vertical Gender Segregation in Employment

Gender segregation refers to unequal distribution of men and women in the occupational structure. Vertical segregation refers to placing men at the top of occupational hierarchies and women at the bottom of the ladder regardless of the academic qualifications. Whereas horizontal segregation describes the fact that both sexes are at the same occupational classes but each is assigned different job tasks. In this essay we will explore the paradox of women’s academic employment in Turkey. How there is low rate of employment of female Turkish labour market yet there is a higher percentage of women professors than any other western country. Canada, German, Denmark and UK countries have been experiencing gender inequality in distribution of labour with women being the worst affected with lowest income brackets as compared to men.

Over the years women in Turkey have always had lowest employment rates as compared to their male counterparts. Vast majority of these women work in agricultural sector, food industry and textile industries as low paid or unpaid family workers. Most of them are employed in rural sectors where skilled labour is not required which means that they are excluded from legal and social protection and benefits such as housing allowances, medical covers that are available in formal sector (Queen Mary 2005, p.3). Turkey women have faced severe career constraints which have resulted to underemployment of women with tertiary or even higher education. Mischau (2001) studies argues that while there is high percentage of female students in the universities, their success is not reflected in the labour market activities (Queen Mary 2005, p.14) (Acar, 1993, p. 70).

Labour markets in Europe face discrimination against men and women in determining occupational distribution. Basing on the study carried out in 2001 of the European Community Household Panel (ECHP), we see how different Europe countries discriminate against sex in occupations. The countries included are Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom. Studies show that Germany discriminates in positions such as managerial, sales/services, plant and manufacturing and elementary occupational whilst UK segregate against technician and associate professionals and crafts/trade workers and Denmark does on clerical occupations. Researchers reveal that a country which has a gender equality laws such as Denmark, men and women are not employed in the same occupational categories. Female dominate clerical occupations while men are employed in the plant/machine operators in the three countries. Despite women’s progress in labour market, research carried out by Organization for Economic Co-operation Development (OECD) reveal that Europe labour employment markets still discriminate against gender concentrating women on clerical, sales, service and teaching professions while men are over-crowded in managerial and administrative positions at the very higher end of hierarchy while in productive jobs, they are placed at lower ends. This reveals that segregation on female labour force results to gender wage inequality (Chzhen, 2006, p.3).

Reports basing on Canadian firms to the federal government on the employment initiatives reveal that female employees are more likely to be employed in certain sectors of occupation as compared to male counterparts. For instance, Air Canada has a high degree concentration of female employees. About 74 percent of them are deployed in intermediate sales and service personnel categories while male employees are concentrated in technical tasks such as engineering, skilled and semi-skilled crafts and trades which amount to only 19 percent. In this kind of occupation, women are more likely to be on intermediate sales and services groups than men but they are on the lowest salary quartile of 23 percent compared to that of 16 percent of men. At Bell Canada, 51 percentage male employees are reported to have been employed in skilled crafts and trades while 69 percent of females are concentrated on clerical personnel categories. Despite the gender imbalance, in all occupations, women are over-represented in the lowest salary groups of 83 percent as compared to 69 per cent of men (Chzhen, 2006, p.21).

In conclusion, women labour markets have improved over the years but preliminary steps need to be taken in order to promote gender equality. Horizontal segregation has remained constant since mid-century while vertical lines have improved significantly following increased number of women’s educational attainments. The pattern of horizontal segregation cast pay equality proposal will significantly reduce gender wage gap. With this policy implemented, blue-collar jobs such as skilled crafts and trades which pay relatively well and leaving out women will offer equal opportunities to both sexes.


  1. Acar, F. 1993. ‘Women and University education in turkey’. Higher Education in Europe, vol.18, pp. 65-77.
  2. Chzhen, Y. 2006. ‘Occupational Gender Segregation and Discrimination in Western Europe. pp. 1-24.
  3. Fortin, N. M., & Huberman, M. 2002. ‘Occupational Gender Segregation and Women’s Wages in Canada: An Historical Perspective, 3-51.
  4. Queen Mary, University of London 2005, ‘Academic Employment and Gender: A Turkish Challenge to Vertical Sex Segregation ‘, Vol.11, no.2, pp. 247-264