GOSAM, Gender Occupational Segregation in the Swiss Apprenticeship Market

Gender occupational segregation is a known phenomenon in the labor market. We investigate whether employers contribute to this segregation by rejecting apprenticeships applicants whose gender differs from that of the typical worker.

Factsheet

  • Lead department Business
  • Institute Institute for New Work
  • Research unit Diversity and Inclusion
  • BFH centre BFH Centre for the Digital Society
  • Funding organisation SNSF
  • Duration 01.03.2018 - 28.02.2019
  • Project management Ana Fernandes
  • Head of project Ana Fernandes
  • Keywords Labor market discrimination, gender, apprenticeship market

Situation

We aim to identify whether or not employers grant apprenticeship positions more often to apprenticeship candidates whose gender matches the prevalent gender in the corresponding occupation.

Course of action

We will conduct a correspondence test of the Swiss apprenticeship market. With the collected data, we will examine whether girls are more often invited to jobs normally performed by women and, vice-versa, whether boys are more often invited to jobs usually performed by men.

Result

We investigated the effect of gender and parental occupation on the probability of being invited to an apprenticeship interview using the empirical methodology of correspondence testing. Having sent out approximately 3000 fictitious apprenticeship applications in Switzerland, we found no statistically significant effect of gender and parental background, in general. The one exception was when the applicant stated having a university professor as father, which boosted callbacks for girls in a statistically significant way, even when accounting for multiple hypothesis testing, but not for boys. Albeit paternal professorship is an empirically rare case, this finding points to the possibility of signaling effects of parental occupation among female applications. This suggests that applications should ideally be blind and not reveal socio-economic information in order to maximize fairness. Our results represent rather positive news for the Swiss apprenticeship market. Companies do not appear to contribute to an early onset of gender occupational segregation, at least not to a level that we can statistically detect, as they mostly appear to carry out gender-blind recruiting. Therefore, gender occupational segregation at the apprenticeship level seems to have its roots on supply-side effects. Policies aimed at fostering gender equality across occupations should focus on removing gender related educational or cultural barriers influencing occupational choices at young ages.

Looking ahead

Our empirical findings suggest that Swiss companies hire apprentices in a gender-blind way. However, girls and boys make career choices looking forward, to the labor market of adult persons, envisioning whom they will become. Policies that level the playing field for adults, mitigating gender occupational segregation there, will also impact the apprenticeship choices of young people entering the labor market. Our results thus reinforce the need to address the unevenness of labor market outcomes by gender in view of their repercussions on the choices of younger people.