12 minutes in segregationland

When my daughter was 3 I accidentally told her the “gas guy” was coming to work on the house. Then I corrected myself, “Actually, I don’t know if it will be a man or a woman.”

She said, “I think it’s a man.”

Children seem to have much better learning capacity than adults (or at least better than I do). A parent telling them something about gender segregation doesn’t have much weight compared with hour after hour, day after day of simple observation.

So the other day I had 12 minutes to kill at the train station in DC. I took pictures of everyone I saw working, including the unpaid work of childcare but not including people working as servers behind counters. This is not research. I was just wondering what a child might notice about gender and work.

Here’s who I saw, with the national gender composition of their presumed occupations, from the American Community Survey:

Railroad conductors and yardmasters: 93% male
Baggage porters, bellhops, and concierges: 84% male
Grandmother (?) and grandchild: 91% of children who live with a grandparent live with a grandmother. 9% live with a grandfather and no grandmother present. http://www.census.gov/hhes/families/data/cps2011.html
Janitors: 75% male
Concrete finishers: 99% male (or could be construction laborers, 98% male)
Construction supervisors: 97% male
Shoe shiners: gender composition not listed.
Driver/sales workers and truck drivers: 96% male
Family members caring for children: 97% of married stay-at-home parents are women (those staying out of the labor force all year while spouse works all year)
Finally, a non-gender-typical worker, a man caring for young child in a stroller.

Not shown:

Male security guards: 78% male

Male police officers: 86% male

Again, this is not research — I was just looking around.

8 thoughts on “12 minutes in segregationland

    1. How so? The janitor was white (or non-black Hispanic; hard to tell from the photograph) and the middle-class guy with child in stroller was black.


  1. I think this sort of “looking around” really helps to generate new ideas. In fact, I think I have already had at least two from this post and I just read it.


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