Documenting occupational sorting by gender in the UK across three cohorts: does a grand convergence rely on societal movements? Articles uri icon

publication date

  • May 2023

start page

  • 2215

end page

  • 2256


  • 64

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0377-7332

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1435-8921


  • We consider the extent to which temporal shifts have been responsible for an increased tendency for females to sort into traditionally male roles over time, versus childhood factors. Drawing on three cohort studies, which follow individuals born in the UK in 1958, 1970 and 2000, we compare the shift in the tendency of females in these cohorts to sort into traditionally male roles compared to males, to the combined effect of a large set of childhood variables. For all three cohorts, we find strong evidence of sorting along gendered lines, which has decreased over time, yet there is no erosion of the gender gap in the tendency to sort into occupations with the highest share of males. Within the cohort, we find little evidence that childhood variables change the tendency for females of either the average or highest ability to sort substantively differently. Our work is highly suggestive that temporal shifts are what matter in determining the differential gendered sorting patterns we have seen over the last number of decades, and also those that remain today. These temporal changes include attitudinal changes, technology advances, policy changes and economic shifts.


  • Economics


  • occupational choice; gender; temporal change; childhood influences