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留学生论文:Feminisation and Paradox:Stratification and

Feminisation and Paradox:Stratification and Segmentation in Professional Contexts

D A N I E L M U Z I O *
S H A R O N C. B O L T O N **
留学生论文网The past three decades have been characterised by dramaticlabour-market developments including the mass entry of womeninto formerly exclusively male domains. Professional work isparticularly indicative of this trend where growth in femalemembership has fuelled optimistic predictions of shattered glassceilings and gender equality. This paper seeks to challenge thesepredictions and to explore the associated assumptions linked withthe feminisation of professional work in the United Kingdom. Itwill do this by focusing on two professional groups: law andmanagement which, despite some substantial differences, present acommon and recurrent theme in that they celebrate and sustaina masculine vision of what it is to be a professional. This leads to aseries of paradoxes as the professions are increasingly dependent onthe contribution of their female members, yet women and women’swork continue to be marginalised, downgraded and exploited.Key words: professions; feminisation; gender; vertical stratification;horizontal segregation.
* Lecturer, Department of Organisation, Work and Technology,
Lancaster University Management School
** Reader in Organisational Analysis, Department of Organisation,
Work and Technology, Lancaster University Management School
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The last ten years have been characterised by dramatic developmentsin the labour market. In particular, we have witnessed the mass entryof women into previously exclusively male domains such as thetraditional professions. These developments have led to increasinglyoptimistic predictions with regards to female emancipation andequal opportunities in what has become known as the feminisationthesis. For instance, the legal profession, traditionally a bastion of maleprivilege, provides an effective example of these developments. InEngland and Wales women were altogether excluded from theprofession until the 1920s (Sugarman, 1995) whilst their numbersnever exceeded the 5 per cent mark throughout most of the twentiethcentury. However, today female solicitors, following a sustainedperiod of growth, represent 40 per cent of practicing solicitors(SRU, 2004) whilst providing the absolute majority in the crucialunder-35 age band. Moreover, given that these trends are set tocontinue, the days in which the profession will be (numerically)predominantly female are not that distant. Similar trends are noticeablein other white collar and professional occupations, includingmanagement. Much like law, management was a predominantlymale domain characterised throughout most of the twentieth centuryby extremely low female participation rates. It was only over thelast twenty years or so that this began to change. Today in Britain,women represent over 30 per cent of this occupational category(Wilson, 2005; Chartered Management Institute/RemunerationEconomics, 2004; Office of National Statistics, 2004) compared toless than 20 per cent in the late 1970s (Davidson and Cooper, 1993).Therefore, these two key occupational groups seem to be experiencingsome similar developments as women move into traditionally maledomains.

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