In the world of work it is noticeable that men and women are not equally distributed throughout the workforce. Vertical segregation occurs when there are gender differences with clustering of males and females at different levels within the same profession. This can occur when, for example, the high salary and high prestige jobs are taken by males, while women who may be equally well qualified do not attain these positions. An example of this can be seen in the field of education where professors are very often male.
There may be both overt and covert discrimination going on here, allowing males to gain access to the training and the jobs that lead to this career track. This is due to factors such as sexism and patriarchy which are deeply rooted in many cultures: “sexism distorts reality, making behaviors seem natural when they are rooted in entrenched systems of power and privilege” (Andersen and Taylor, 2000, p. 316) It occurs for example in the Information technology industry where studies have shown that the more “hands on” and technical roles were largely undertaken by men, while women were concentrated in support roles. Key factors here were notions of competitiveness and “the reinforcement of a masculine culture around these jobs” (Whitehouse and Diamond, 2005, p. 559) Vertical segregation creates a glass ceiling, meaning an invisible barrier which prevents women from gaining promotion, and sometimes also a male ghetto, which restricts men to stereotypical roles. These are