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 cultural effects which are based on habits rather than scientifically provable differences in male and female ability.
Whitehouse, Gillian and Diamond, Chris. “Reproducing gender inequality: Segregation and career paths in information technology jobs in Australia.” AIRAANZ, 2005, pp. 555-563. Available online at: