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To what extent does gender shape women's career choices and economic independence?

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Stereotyping, cultural norms, and patriarchal values severely limit women's career choices and identities. In Saudi Arabia, for instance, women have only recently been granted the right to drive—let alone been considered to have equal professional status to men. According to a 2013 study by the International Labour Organization, the ratio of employed men to men's total population was 72.2 percent, while the ratio for women was just 47.1 percent.

When women are able to work, they earn a global average of just 60 to 75 percent of what men earn—and this gap increases for women of color. For instance, while US women earned 82% of what US men earned for full-time work in 2017, the gap between earnings by women of color and by white men is stark:

Hispanic women’s median weekly earnings in 2017 were $603 per week of full-time work, only 62.2 percent of White men’s median weekly earnings . . . The median weekly earnings of Black women were $657, only 67.7 percent of White men’s earnings . . . (Institute for Women's Policy Research)

While some attempt to explain the gender wage gap by citing the fact that women and men tend to go into different fields of employment, a study that analyzed US Census data from 1950 to 2000 found that "when women enter fields in greater numbers, pay declines—for the very same jobs that more men were doing before" (the New York Times).

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This depends on how you are using the term "gender."  If you are using it to refer to a biological fact, then gender only shapes female career choices to a relatively small extent.  There are a few kinds of jobs that are closed to females by virtue of their biological sex.  These include jobs such as that of infantry soldier and (to a great degree) professional athlete.  But there are not many other kinds of jobs that are closed to women because of biology.

If you are using this term to refer to the way in which society conceives of what women "should be," then gender has a much greater impact on women's career choices.  Women disproportionately go into careers that involve caring for others.  They are nurses or day care workers much more than men are.  The vast majority of elementary school teachers are women.  These are jobs (unlike, for example, policing or carpentry) that are seen as compatible with what our society thinks that women should be.

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