Revisiting the glass escalator: The case of gender segregation in a female dominated occupation

Karrie Ann Snyder*, Adam Isaiah Green

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Using data from the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses (NSSRN) 1977-2000, we examine sex segregation in a paradigmatic female-dominated occupation - nursing. We find that contrary to the vertical pattern of occupational stratification implied by the "glass escalator," men are not disproportionately represented in administrative posts. Instead, we find a pervasive pattern of horizontal sex segregation, whereby men and women are disproportionately clustered in particular gendered specialties. Using in-depth interviews with a sample of registered nurses, we show that male nurses tend to gravitate toward areas of nursing they perceive to be more "masculine." Our findings have implications for other female-dominated occupations because the bottom-heavy structure of most occupations limits the number of men (as well as women) from reaching the top positions within the field, meaning that horizontal sorting processes of acclimation sort most male employees in female-dominated professions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-299
Number of pages29
JournalSocial Problems
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2008


  • Career choices
  • Gender
  • Masculinity
  • Occupational sex segregation
  • Work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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