GMAT Test Prep: RC-27042313 GMAT Reading Comprehension

Historians of women's labor in the United States at firstlargely disregarded the story of female service workers-women earning wages in occupations such as salesclerk.domestic servant, and office secretary. These historiansfocused instead on factory work, primarily because itseemed so different from traditional, unpaid "women'swork" in the home, and because the underlying economicforces of industrialism were presumed to be gender-blindand hence emancipatory in effect. Unfortunately, emancipation has been less profound than expected, for not evenindustrial wage labor has escaped continued sex segregation in the workplace.To explain this unfinished revolution in the status ofwomen, historians have recently begun to emphasize theway a prevailing definition of femininity often eterminesthe kinds of work allocated to women, even when suchallocation is inappropriate to new conditions. For instance,early textile-mill entrepreneurs, in justifying women'semployment in wage labor, made much of the assumptionthat women were by nature skillful at detailed tasks andpatient in carrying out repetitive chores; the mill ownersthus imported into the new industrial order hoary stereotypes associated with the homemaking activities theypresumed to have been the purview of women. Becausewomen accepted the more unattractive new industrial tasksmore readily than did men, such jobs came to be regardedas female jobs.And employers, who assumed that women's"real" aspirations were for marriage and family life.declined to pay women wages commensurate with those ofmen. Thus many lower-skilled, lower-paid, less secure jobscame to be perceived as "female."

More remarkable than the origin has been the persistenceof such sex segregation in twentieth-century industry. Oncean occupation came to be perceived as "female." employersshowed surprisingly little interest in changing that percep-tion, even when higher profits beckoned. And despite theurgent need of the United States during the Second World Warto mobilize its human resources fully, job segregation by sexcharacterized even the most importantwar industries. Moreover, once the war ended, employersquickly returned to men most of the "male" jobs thatwomen had been permitted to master.
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According to the passage, job segregation by sex in the United States was