Does the “Glass Escalator” Compensate for the Devaluation of Care Work Occupations? The Careers of Men in Low- and Middle-Skill Health Care Jobs

Janette S. Dill, Kim Price-Glynn, Carter Rakovski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

Feminized care work occupations have traditionally paid lower wages compared to non–care work occupations when controlling for human capital. However, when men enter feminized occupations, they often experience a “glass escalator,” leading to higher wages and career mobility as compared to their female counterparts. In this study, we examine whether men experience a “wage penalty” for performing care work in today’s economy, or whether the glass escalator helps to mitigate the devaluation of care work occupations. Using data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation for the years 1996-2011, we examine the career patterns of low- and middle-skill men in health care occupations. We found that men in occupations that provide the most hands-on direct care did experience lower earnings compared to men in other occupations after controlling for demographic characteristics. However, men in more technical allied health occupations did not have significantly lower earnings, suggesting that these occupations may be part of the glass escalator for men in the health care sector. Minority men were significantly more likely than white men to be in direct care occupations, but not in frontline allied health occupations. Male direct care workers were less likely to transition to unemployment compared to men in other occupations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)334-360
Number of pages27
JournalGender and Society
Volume30
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Feminized occupations
  • Health care
  • Low-wage work
  • New economy
  • Social mobility

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