University of Maryland

The Demand for Female Labor

Cotter, David A., JoAnn M. DeFiore, Joan M. Hermsen, Brenda Marsteller Kowalewski, and Reeve Vanneman. 1998. "The Demand for Female Labor" American Journal of Sociology 103 (May) 1673-1712.


A number of theorists identify the demand for female labor as a central determinant of gender inequality. We construct a measure of the demand for female labor and test its impact on labor market inequality, educational attainment, family status, political representation and gender role attitudes across 261 metropolitan areas. Areas with more "female" occupational structures have less gender labor market and educational inequality. However, there is little evidence of a relationship between demand for female labor and family, politics, or gender attitudes. Macro-level gender stratification theories may therefore be too broad-scoped. Different gendered outcomes depend on different sets of causal influences.

Last updated May 10, 2000
comments to: Reeve Vanneman.