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A Comparative Study of Adolescents and Adults in Israel
The past two decades have witnessed rapid normative changes in gender role attitudes, role behavior, and division of labor between men and women in Western countries (Lewis, 1992) as well as in Israel (Izraeli, 1992). This trend, together with changing norms and ideologies regarding occupational gender roles, has enabled women to enter fields previously dominated by males. Research on occupational sex segregation confirms that the number of women in male-dominant careers has increased substantially (Azmon & Izraeli, 1993; Goh, 1991; Jacobson, 1994; Reskin & Ross, 1990). At the same time, some researchers indicate that men have begun to enter female-dominant careers, although to a lesser extent (Basow, 1986; Hartmann, 1976; Sacks, 1987). When members of one gender predominate in a given occupation, it eventually becomes gender labeled, that is, characterized as typical of the dominant gender and atypical of the opposite gender (Oppenheimer, 1979).
The increased representation of women in the workforce and their entry into fields previously characterized as masculine has generated considerable research on occupational sex-typing, which has continued since the 1970s (Evelo, Jessell, & Beymer, 1991; Kulik, 1995; Shinar, 1975). The abundance of literature on the topic underscores the lack of research dealing specifically with the relationship between sex-typing of occupations and their occupational prestige. In this connection, some of the few studies deal with the occupational status of individuals who practice gender-atypical occupations. These individuals has been identified as "token." Tokenism specifically addresses situations in which individuals of one social category constitute a small minority (Kanter, 1977). Some studies on tokenism have found that gender interacts with tokenism, resulting in positive outcomes for men and negative outcomes for women. Lorber (1984) found that women physicians are underrepresented in the upper echelons of the medical profession, even though they have the same qualifications as men. In a study of male nurses and female physicians, Floge and Merrill (1980) also indicated that the direct effects of tokenism vary with gender. According to their findings, male nurses were accorded higher status than their female counterparts, which was expressed by more association with physicians, more responsibility, and more leadership roles. Moreover, women physicians were found to be negatively affected by tokenism; that is, they are less respected than their male counterparts and are not accepted as leaders.
Israeli society is a particularly interesting context for examining this issue. While it is industrial and urban, it has maintained a traditional structure of family life (Peres & Katz, 1981). Although the occupational structure of Israeli society is highly segregated along gender lines (Azmon & Izraeli, 1993; Cohen, Bechar, & Raijwan, 1987), the percentage of women in the workforce has been rising steadily in recent years as in other industrialized societies. In 1980, for example, the proportion of Jewish women in the workforce was 39.2%, compared with 46.4% 10 years later (Israel Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, 1991). Specifically, women have gravitated toward white-collar occupations such as teaching and clerical work, in which their education gave them an advantage and in which they already had a foothold (Azmon & Izraeli, 1993). Concomitantly, the proportion of Israeli women has increased in a number of male-typed fields such as lawyers, jurists, architects, and executives in the public service. In addition, women have entered occupations without clear gender labels such as computer technicians (Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, 1994).
A review of the fields that have become accessible to Israeli women since 1970 confirms that although women have entered both high- and medium-prestige masculine occupations, clear gender segregation has persisted in low-status masculine occupations (see sample of occupations in Table 1).
TABLE 1 Percentage of Women in the Workforce in Israel, 1972-1994 Occupation 1972 1994 Academic and scientific occupations 33.6 51.9 Engineers and architects 9.9 24.0 Physicians (including dentists) 28.1 34.2 Academic staff in the social sciences 33.4 59.8 Teachers in institutions of higher education 32.7 35.3 Teachers in elementary schools and preschools 74.7 82.1 Nurses and paramedical staff 80.9 87.9 Police 4.3 6.9 Technicians 18.6 14.3 Skilled industrial workers and unskilled laborers 11.4 7.3 Drivers (public transportation) 0.4 2.1 Managers 7.5 37.8 General office clerks 65.1 74.8
SOURCE: Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (1938, 1993).
For example, over a 20-year period, the number of female bus drivers only increased by 1.7%, and the number of females employed as unskilled laborers decreased by about 4%. This trend can be attributed to the rising level of education and training among women in Israel over the past decades (Israel Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, 1991).
Given the changing representation of women in different occupational fields, the present study focused on sex-typing of occupations at different levels of occupational prestige, based on the gender and age of respondents. With regard to the impact of gender on attitudes toward occupational sex roles, most of the research …