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Planet Money
4:37 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

What American Women Do For Work

Originally published on Thu November 1, 2012 5:09 pm

Forty years ago, only 1 in 3 American workers was a woman. Today, it's 1 in 2.

You know this already. But it raises interesting, subtler questions: What jobs did all those women get? And how did the gender breakdown change by industry over the past 40 years?

This graph answers those questions.

It shows how the gender breakdown changed in major sectors of the economy between 1972 and 2012.

The size of the circles shows how some sectors grew to include a larger share of the workforce, while others shrank in relative terms.

Two main themes jump out here.

The percentage of women did increase in some sectors, like government, leisure and hospitality, and financial activities (which includes real estate and insurance as well as financial services).

But the gains for women came not only from changes within sectors, but also from broader job shifts in the economy.

Women do most jobs in health and education — this was true in 1972, and it's still true today. The gender balance has barely changed. But the share of U.S. jobs in this sector has more than doubled — from 7 percent in 1972 to 15 percent today.

Manufacturing is the mirror image of health and education. Men still do most of the jobs in the sector. But the share of total U.S. jobs in manufacturing has fallen sharply — from 24 percent in 1972, to 9 percent today.

See more graphical looks at America here.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.