Occupational gender segregation can either be considered in absolute terms – that is, the actual dominance of one sex in a particular occupation – or in relative terms, that is to say, the higher share of one sex relative to the expected share. For example, as women tend to be underrepresented at an aggregate level among the employed population, their expected share in a single occupation could be lower than that of men if they were distributed in the same way as men across all occupations. In practice, conceiving gender segregation in relative terms can be problematic, as the main reason why women tend to account for less than 50 % of the employed workforce is the gender division of domestic labour and women's disproportionate share of unpaid care and domestic work. Thus, a reasonable starting expectation for gender equality is to measure segregation by measuring whether one sex or the other is in the majority in an occupation or workplace (using absolute terms).
See also: vertical segregation; horizontal segregation
Based on European Commission (2014). A New Method to Understand Occupational Gender Segregation in European Labour Markets. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/gender-equality/files/documents/150119_segre...