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Chartbook on Women and Disability

Section 3: Women: Disability, work, income and benefits

3.2. In which occupational categories are women with disabilities employed?

There are six major occupational categories used in the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). Figures reported here are for people 16 to 64 years old, based on the 1994-95 SIPP. About 29.1 million Americans are employed in the managerial and professional specialty occupations, which include executives, managers, engineers, scientists, teachers, health and other professionals. The category of technical, sales and administrative support, with 37.4 million employed, represents the largest occupational category. The rapidly growing service sector employs about 17 million people. The category of farming, forestry and fishing is the smallest group, with 1.9 million employed. Nearly 12 million people work in the precision production, craft and repair occupations, and 19.3 million work in the factory-related category of operators, fabricators and laborers. People in the military are not included in this analysis.

Compared to men, more women with disabilities are employed in the service occupations. Approximately 1.8 million women with disabilities are employed in the service sector, representing 18.7% of women working in that category. By comparison, about 1.1 million men with disabilities work in the service occupations, and they represent only 15.3% of men employed in that sector. Based on analysis of data from the Current Population Survey (CPS), researchers have found that employment of women with disabilities has increased over the past few decades, in tandem with the growth of the service sector (Yelin, 1992; Yelin &Katz, 1994; Yelin 1996).

In the category of managerial and professional occupations, women with disabilities are also employed at higher rates and in greater numbers than men with disabilities. About 1.6 million women with disabilities represent 10.7% of the women employed in this category, compared to 1.3 million men with disabilities who represent 9.2% of men in the managerial and professional category. However, women with disabilities are represented in higher numbers primarily in the traditionally female-dominated professions, including registered nurses and similar health professionals, elementary and secondary school teachers, and librarians. Women with disabilities also outnumber men with disabilities in middle management positions.

Compared to men, women with disabilities are employed at higher rates and in greater numbers in the services and the managerial and professional occupations.

(numbers in 1000's)

  Women Men
Occupational category Total Total women # with
% with
Total men # with
% with
Managerial &professional 29,083 14,860 1,592 10.7% 14,223 1,315 9.2%
Technical, sales, administrative support 37,378 24,610 3,085 12.5% 12,769 1,767 13.8%
Service occupations 17,000 9,790 1,830 18.7% 7,209 1,105 15.3%
Farming, forestry & fishing 1,916 368 68 18.6% 1,548 306 19.8%
Precision production, craft & repair 11,978 1,104 166 15.1% 10,874 1,562 14.4%
Operators, fabricators &laborers 19,330 4,852 872 18.0% 14,477 2,309 15.9%
Totals 116,685 55,585 7,613 13.7% 61,100 8,362 13.7%

Table 2: Number and percentage of people with disabilities in major occupational categories, by gender, 16 to 64 years old

Source: J. McNeil (personal communication, January, 1999)

Surveys: SIPP, 1994-95 (unpublished data)

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