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The Sociological Quarterly , Vol. 45, Issue 4, pp. 613–635, ISSN 0038-0253, electronic ISSN 1533-8525. © 2004 by The Midwest Sociological Society. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press’s Rights and Permissions website, at http://www. ucpress.edu/journals/rights.htm. BRINGING CLIENTS BACK IN: Homophily Preferences and Inequality on Wall Street Louise Marie Roth University of Arizona Using qualitative data from a cohort sample of 76 current or former Wall Street pro- fessionals, I argue that the perception that clients prefer homophily with their service providers shapes Wall Street careers and contributes to gender inequality. I also reveal how some women on Wall Street partially insulate themselves from biases against them by deliberately avoiding positions that are most dependent on client relationships. I hypothesize that the strength of client preferences for homophily in service providers in the Wall Street context is related to the high status of this service profession and its clients. A great deal of sociological research has analyzed gender and racial/ethnic inequality in earnings and the segregation of the workforce (England and Farkas 1986; Jacobs 1989; Blau and Ferber 1992; Reskin 1993; Kilbourne et al. 1994; Petersen and Morgan 1995; Reskin, McBrier, and Kmec 1999). Scholars of employment patterns have also paid increasing attention to service occupations, as Western nations have experienced transitions from an economy based on industrial production to one with an emphasis on the provision of services (Singelmann 1978; Bluestone and Harrison 1988; Harrison and Bluestone 1988; Bluestone 1990; Sassen 1990; Morris, Bernhardt, and Handcock 1994). The transition to a service-based economy has had important implications for the segre- gation of the workforce and for inequality in earnings, because women and nonwhite men have disproportionately filled the growing number of low-paying service sector jobs (Bluestone and Harrison 1988; Harrison and Bluestone 1988; Bluestone 1990; Mor- ris, Bernhardt, and Handcock 1994). Some research on inequality in service jobs has also given serious attention to the importance of consumers in shaping employment pro- cesses in varied service industries (Reskin 1993; Gutek 1995; Wisely and Fine 1997; Trentham and Larwood 1998; Erickson, Albanese, and Drakulic 2000; Gutek et al. 2000; McCammon and Griffin 2000). However, research examining the impact of client relation- ships on inequality in growing knowledge-intensive service professions is rare (McDowell and Court 1994). In this article my primary objective is to analyze how professionals in high-status, tra- ditionally male-dominated service professions make career decisions based on their per- ceptions that clients prefer service providers like themselves and that employers indulge these client preferences. Using qualitative data from in-depth interviews with a cohort Direct all correspondence to Louise Marie Roth, University of Arizona, 433 Social Sciences Building, Tucson, AZ, 85721; e-mail: [email protected]
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614 THE SOCIOLOGICAL QUARTERLY Vol. 45/No. 4/2004
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