Men and Women at Work: Occupational Gender Composition and Affective Well-Being in the United States

Abstract

Most adults spend almost half their waking hours at work. How people feel during work can have far-reaching consequences for their quality of life. This study traces male and female workers’ affective experiences at work to the gender composition of their occupations. To do this, we draw on nationally representative time diary data on affective experiences at work from the 2010, 2012, and 2013 well-being modules of the American Time Use Surveys, as well as data on occupational gender composition from the Current Population Surveys. Our analytic sample contains 5216 activity records of working at main jobs from 4486 non-self-employed workers. We find significant gender differences in the relationship between occupational gender composition and affective well-being: Working in occupations with higher percentages of male workers is associated with higher levels of unpleasantness and lower levels of meaningfulness at work for women but these associations are not significant for men. We discuss the implications of our findings for gender inequality in work-related well-being and for the stalled progress towards gender integration in occupations.

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Acknowledgements

The first author, Yue Qian, gratefully acknowledge funding support from the University of British Columbia through the Faculty of Arts Workshop and Visiting Speaker Grant (PG# 12R11213). An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2018 Work and Family Researchers Network Conference in Washington, D.C.

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Qian, Y., Fan, W. Men and Women at Work: Occupational Gender Composition and Affective Well-Being in the United States. J Happiness Stud 20, 2077–2099 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-018-0039-3

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Keywords

  • Affective well-being
  • Gender
  • Occupational gender segregation
  • Time use
  • Quality of life
  • United States