NPR’s Planet Money asks an interesting question.  If there are more women in the workforce now than there were forty years ago (and there are), where did all the additional jobs come from?

The pie charts below tell some of the story.  On the left are charts representing the percentage of women in various occupations in 1972.  The size of the circle corresponds to the size of the sector: larger is equivalent to more total jobs; on the right are the same charts for 2012.

Notice two trends: first,  in almost all categories today women are a larger percentage of the workers than they were in 1972 and, second, many of the occupational sectors that have high percentages of women have grown (e.g., education and health), whereas many in which men dominate have shrunk (e.g., manufacturing, media/telecommunications).

So, as women have joined the workforce, they’ve contributed to the overall growth of the American workforce and, specifically, filled the demand for employees in growing occupations.

Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.