Women accounted for 46.8% of the 147.8 million people working in the U.S. labor force in 2020. A decade earlier, women accounted for 47.2% of all American workers. Women had made up a steadily increasing share of the U.S. labor force in recent decades, increasing from 29.6% in 1950, but this progress plateaued around 2015, when the female share of the labor force hit 46.8%, where it remains to this day.
Still, female workers account for a majority of the labor force in an increasing amount of jobs. There are over a dozen jobs now mostly performed by female workers that were majority male just a decade ago.
To determine the jobs that were formerly dominated by men that are now dominated by women, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on employment by gender for over 500 detailed occupations from the Current Population Survey of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupations with mostly male workers in 2010 and mostly female workers in 2020 were ranked by the percentage point increase in the share of female workers in that 10-year timeframe.
Some of the shifting workforce demographics in these jobs can be at least partially attributed to education. Many careers require workers to have at least a bachelor’s degree, if not an advanced degree. Women have earned more than half of all bachelor’s degrees every year since 1982 and the majority of doctoral degrees each year since 2006, setting an increasing number of women to better qualify for certain jobs. These are the college majors that pay off the most.
Though the COVID-19 pandemic had a far-reaching economic impact across the nation, women seem to have been more affected. More than 2.3 million women left the labor force from February 2020 through January 2021, compared to 1.8 million men. People often leave the labor force because they are retiring, becoming a full-time parent, or sometimes because they cannot find a job, so they stop looking.
Though women do not make up a majority of the U.S. workforce, they do make up a majority of workers in a number of very important jobs that are only going to become increasingly more vital in coming years in sectors like health care and social services. As more and more members of the baby boomer generation reach older age, demand for a variety of health care services is likely to increase. These are the fastest growing jobs held mostly by women.