Knowledge Center

Women in Male-Dominated Industries and Occupations

Male-Dominated Occupations Are Those That Comprise 25% or Fewer Women1

Male-dominated industries and occupations are particularly vulnerable to masculine stereotypes that make it even more difficult for women to excel.2 ​

Senior leadership teams that are dominated by men set the tone for talent management norms that allow masculine stereotypes to influence promotion and development opportunities.3

  • Catalyst research discovered that talent management systems can be vulnerable to pro-male biases, which results in less diverse employee pools.4
Occupational Segregation Contributes to Gender Inequality 5

Globally women continue to be highly overrepresented in clerical, service, and professional occupations. Meanwhile, men tend to be overrepresented in crafts and related trades, as well as, increasingly, plant and machine operator and assembler jobs.6

In the United States, only 6.3% of women worked in male-dominated occupations in 2016.7

Male-dominated occupations generally pay more than female-dominated occupations,8 yet women made less than men in median weekly earnings in every male-dominated occupation in 2016.9


Women's Share of Male-Dominated Australian Industries10
Industry Women's Share of Total Industry Women's Share of Managers in Industry Women's Share of CEOs in Industry
Mining 15.8% 15.3% 2.5%
Construction 15.9% 10.9% 3.3%
Public Administration and Safety 20.4% 16.7% 4.5%



Women's Share in Male-Dominated Canadian Industries11
Industry Women's Share of Total Industry
Construction 11.7%
Forestry and Logging With Support Activities 17.7%
Fishing, Hunting, and Trapping 18.8%
Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction 20.0%
Durables 22.0%
Transporation and Warehousing 23.4%


Top Five Most Male-Dominated Canadian Occupations12
Occupation Total Employees Women's Share of Total Employees
Motorcycle, All-Terrain Vehicle and Other Related Mechanics 4,795 0.3%
Drillers and Blasters (Surface Mining, Quarrying, and Construction) 3,160 0.6%
Heavy-Duty Equipment Mechanics 42,985 1.1%
Railway Carmen/Women 2,730 1.3%
Bricklayers 18,775 1.4%


Top Five Most Female-Dominated Canadian Occupations13
Occupation Total Employees Women's Share of Total Employees
Dental Assistants 29,260 98.2%
Medical Administrative Assistants 14,700 98.2%
Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists 22,620 97.0%
Early Childhood Educators and Assistants 181,700 96.8%
Office Administrative Assistants—General, Legal and Medical 367,330 96.3%



Women's Share of Male-Dominated Japanese Industries14
Industry Women's Share of Total Industry
Manufacture of Iron and Steel 12.5%
Electricity, Gas, Heat Supply and Water 13.3%
Forestry 14.3%
Construction 15.0%


United States

Women's Share of Male-Dominated US Industries15
Industry Women's Share of Total Industry
Logging 3.2%
Construction 9.1%
Repair and Maintenance 10.9%
Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction 13.4%
Transportation and Utilities 23.5%


Top Five Most Male-Dominated US Occupations16
Occupation Total Employees Share of Women Employees
Brickmasons, Blockmasons, and Stonemasons 160,000 0.5%
Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians and Mechanics 203,000 0.5%
Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers 136,000 0.6%
Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists 342,000 0.8%
Crane and Tower Operators 63,000 0.8%


Top Five Most Female-Dominated US Occupations17
Occupation Total Employees Women's Share of Total Employees
Preschool and Kindergarten Teachers 692,000 97.5%
Speech-Language Pathologists 162,000 97.5%
Dental Hygienists 169,000 97.1%
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants 2,744,000 94.6%
Childcare Workers 1,280,000 94.4%


Additional Resources

Australian Human Rights Commission and Australian Government, Women in Male-Dominated Industries: A Toolkit of Strategies (2013).

Catalyst, Quick Take: Women in Energy.

Catalyst, Quick Take: Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

Richard A. Lippa, Kathleen Preston, and John Penner, “Women’s Representation in 60 Occupations from 1972 to 2010: More Women in High-Status Jobs, Few Women in Things-Oriented Jobs,” PLoS ONE, vol. 9, no. 5 (2014).

Phiona Martin and Antoni Barnard, “The Experience of Women in Male-Dominated Occupations: A Constructivist Grounded Theory Inquiry,” SA Journal of Industrial Psychology, vol. 39, no. 2 (2013).

Jessica Schieder and Elise Gould,Women’s Work’ and the Gender Pay Gap, (Economic Policy Institute, 2016).

Catalyst Award Winners in Male-Dominated Industries

The Catalyst Award annually honors innovative organizational approaches with proven, measurable results that address the recruitment, development, and advancement of all women, including women of color.

Nine of the companies that won the Catalyst Award were in male-dominated industries.

  • 3M (2017)18
  • Rockwell Automation (2017)19
  • Chevron (2015)20
  • Alcoa (2013)21
  • CH2M Hill (2009) 22
  • Nissan (2008) 23
  • BP (2006)24
  • Georgia Pacific (2005) 25
  • Harley-Davidson, Inc. (2004)26


How to cite this product: Catalyst. Quick Take: Women in Male-Dominated Industries and Occupations. New York: Catalyst, May 30, 2017.