DEI: Occupation


Definition of occupation

1a an activity in which one engages.

the principal business of one’s life vocation.

Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary

For some, a person’s occupation is part of their identity, and, for others, it may be merely a means to provide for themselves and their families. For some, their occupation may open doors and increase access to other institutions. For others, it may have the opposite effect as their opportunities are limited by other dimensions of diversity.

Research has shown that racegender, and age often impact the types of jobs people can get, their career trajectories and pay equity. Research indicates that early U.S. policies (such as slavery and Jim Crow laws) still affect today’s occupational choices. For instance, the exodus of African Americans from the South due to discrimination led Asian American and Latino workers to fill low-paying agricultural jobs. African Americans who left these agricultural positions took on service positions for similar wages. As the majority of service jobs are held by minorities, it leaves African Americans and Hispanics largely underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

Other secondary dimensions of diversity can also be related to occupation, like socioeconomic status. Sometimes, socioeconomic status is determined by occupation. A list of the 10 jobs with the largest wage gaps can be found here.

Having AAUW members with different occupations adds to the perspectives we see and hear during our meetings, workshops and events. It helps the organization to ensure that a diverse cross-section of individuals are included in our work.