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Unintended consequences on gender diversity of high-tech growth and labor market polarization

Echeverri-Carroll, Elsie L., Michael D. Oden, David V. Gibson and Evan A. Johnston

Research Policy, 2018, vol. 47, issue 1, 209-217

Abstract: There has been considerable media coverage highlighting the lack of gender diversity in Silicon Valley, stressing the relatively low participation of women in the high-tech economy. Austin offers a unique case for testing whether similar gender issues characterized other high-tech regions because the city has historically benefited from the expansion of Silicon Valley’s large high-tech firms since the 1980s. The gender-biased business practices identified in Silicon Valley firms may have been transferred to their branch plants in Austin. Our analysis shows women’s losses in middle-skill occupation employment shares were concentrated in the low-tech industry and were partially offset by job share gains in high-skill occupations in the same sector between 1980 and 2015. Men’s losses in middle-skill occupation job share were also mainly concentrated in the low-tech sector but were partially offset by employment share gains in high-skill occupations only in the high-tech industry during this period. Women made large gains in relative real median wages only in high-skill occupations in the high-tech industry while their relative real median wages in other skill occupations and in the low-tech industry stagnated around zero during this period. Men’s gains in relative median wages were also concentrated only in the high-tech industry but were less than half of women’s and were negative (between −10 and −21 percent) in other occupations in the high-tech industry and across all occupations in the low-tech industry. As noted in previous studies, the impact of job polarization is not well understood across sectors and gender. This study finds the high-tech industry in Austin has had unintended consequences in terms of job polarization across gender, providing relatively fewer job opportunities in high-skill occupations to women than men but offering much higher gains in relative real median wages to women than men. Males also found relatively more job opportunities in high-skill occupations in the high-tech industry than women but experienced only half of women’s gains in relative median wages in this industry between 1980 and 2015.

Keywords: Job polarization; Gender; Austin; High-technology; Wage inequality (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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