Sex differences and occupational choice. Theorizing for policy informed by behavioral science.

PublikationArtikel (med peer review)


Occupations are segregated with respect to sex, even in modern, egalitarian societies. There are strong pressures to eliminate segregation and therefore strong reasons to correctly theorize why segregation persists. The dominant view underpinning most public policies is essentially that environmental factors nudge women and men into different occupational paths. Nudging, however, ignores research suggesting that psychological traits that influence occupational choice differs between women and men, on average.

Some of the most well-documented and persistent average sex differences between men and women suggest that the taken-for-granted assumption that an egalitarian society would exhibit a more or less equal distribution of men and women across the occupational landscape may be mistaken. Rather, models of occupational choice informed by individual differences in preferences, broadly understood, would help us better explain how men and women behave in the labor market. Differences in occupational preferences will affect choices. Therefore, differences in proportions of women and men across professions may be in line with an egalitarian society and the well-being and best interest of both men and women in society.

The article can be read here.

Stern, C., & Madison, G. (2022). Sex differences and occupational choice Theorizing for policy informed by behavioral science.Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 202, 694-702.

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