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The impact of organizational form on gendered labour markets in engineering and law

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 11:03 authored by Clarissa HughesClarissa Hughes, Malcolm WatersMalcolm Waters
It is well known that occupations are differentially gendered and explanations for such gendering usually focus on structure and process in the labour market. However little is known of the fine detail of the way in which labour markets perform for particular occupations in particular local contexts. This article is based on micro-sociological research on the professional labour markets for law and engineering professionals in the city of Hobart, Australia. It addresses a discrepancy in women's participation and promotion rates in each of these professions: the proportion of women in high positions in engineering matches their educational qualification rates while that in law is considerably lower than educational qualification rates would suggest. The paper proposes that the explanation can be found in the respective organizational patterns of the two professions. Engineering is practised in large-scale bureaucratic organizations where formal rules govern recruitment and promotion, where equal opportunities legislation literally applies, and where a strict separation is maintained between public and domestic spheres. By contrast, law is practised in collegial partnerships where informal judgements govern recruitment and promotion, where the letter of equal opportunities legislation need not be applied, and where advancement depends on the subordination of the domestic to the public sphere.


Publication title

The Sociological Review








School of Social Sciences


Blackwell Publishers

Place of publication

Oxford, UK

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in human society

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