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Computer Use and the Demand for Female Workers

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  • Bruce A. Weinberg

Abstract

Using data from the March and October CPS, the author investigates the effect of computers on the demand for female workers. A model illustrates that computers, by changing skill requirements and the conditions of work—de-emphasizing physical skill—should favor women even if women have no advantage over men in using computers or in acquiring computer skills. Decompositions of the growth in women's employment and cross-industry-occupation regressions indicate that increases in computer use can account for over half of the growth in demand for female workers. Consistent with the hypothesis that differences in the physical requirements of jobs are responsible for these effects, increases in computer use have the greatest effect among skilled blue-collar workers and workers with less than a college education. The increase in computer use may contribute to an apparent substitutability between highly skilled women and less skilled men found in other research.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruce A. Weinberg, 2000. "Computer Use and the Demand for Female Workers," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 53(2), pages 290-308, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:ilrrev:v:53:y:2000:i:2:p:290-308
    DOI: 10.1177/001979390005300206
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Goldin, Claudia, 1992. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195072709.
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    3. Daron Acemoglu, 1998. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1055-1089.
    4. John E. DiNardo & Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 1997. "The Returns to Computer Use Revisited: Have Pencils Changed the Wage Structure Too?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 291-303.
    5. Bound, John & Johnson, George, 1992. "Changes in the Structure of Wages in the 1980's: An Evaluation of Alternative Explanations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 371-392, June.
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