Gender Barriers at Work: A Comparison Between Women Train Drivers and Women Garage Mechanics in Spain

Maria del Mar Maira-Vidal


Occupational segregation persists despite continuous promotion of equal opportunity policies. This article describes various barriers that have stood in the way of women train drivers’ and women motor vehicle mechanics’ entering and remaining in employment. The results are based on case studies of these two occupations in Spain and primarily on the analysis of in-depth interviews of female and male employees in these occupations. The comparison is justified because of the companies’ similarities in terms of underrepresentation and yet their dissimilar organisation in terms of both size and management style. The findings indicate the presence of at least two types of obstacles: 1) explicit barriers related to personnel selection and the material characteristics of workplaces; and 2) implicit barriers associated with attitudes and practices in the relationships between the minority of women workers and the male majority.


male-dominated occupations; segregation; gender barriers at work; Spanish women train drivers; Spanish women garage mechanics

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