Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Leslie J. Irvine

Second Advisor

Rachel Rinaldo

Third Advisor

Stefanie Mollborn

Fourth Advisor

Patricia A. Adler

Fifth Advisor

Wendy DuBow


Since the 1960s, an increasing number of women have entered the paid labor force. However, occupations still remain deeply sex segregated (Heilman 2012; Rudman and Phelan 2010; Sweet and Meiksins 2008; Charles and Grusky 2004). Ashcraft and her coauthors (2012) argue that once reason segregation is so persistent is because occupations have identities that tie the work being done in a given job to an image of a gendered and raced ideal worker. This creates a tension, where occupations are under pressure to have a diverse workforce while still claiming a distinct occupational identity (Ashcraft et al. 2012). This research explores how women resolve that tension and how they frame their sense of inclusion in male-dominated jobs. I present three case studies (high tech, funeral directing, and cannabis) of jobs that represent Kanter’s (1977) spectrum of segregation in occupations. I draw on 79 interviews with women working in these careers to address how the relative gender composition of occupations impacts how women are able to frame their belonging in occupations that have historically excluded women. I discuss how gender is both a reason for women’s exclusion in these occupations, as well as how they argue for their inclusion. My research shows that viewing ways that women both challenge and maintain the gender order through a “both/and” lens (Luft and Ward 2009; Hill Collins 2000) can help us understand women’s employment in male-dominated occupations. This research contributes to our understanding of gender transgressions and identifies the limitations of the transformative impact of women’s participation in male-dominated jobs.

Included in

Sociology Commons