That is an interesting point. Reskin & Roos (_Job queues, gender queues_) argue that fitness for a job is the function of two perceptions, the perception of the employer and the perception of the job applicant. These authors argue, and provide empirical evidence, that men and women often apply for those jobs for which they see themselves as more suitable - this pertains not just to the 'tradional' distinctions between 'masculine' and 'feminine' jobs, but also different market niches within the same occupations (like type setters or bakers).
I may add that such expectations may not be purely subjective, they may include quite real anticipation of hostility (especially among male blue collar workers) against women doing the "man's job." Such instances are often mistakenly perceived as 'sexual harassment' although they have nothing to do with sex, but gender roles.
But it is interesting to see how labor-related issues are defined as other-than-labor issues_ gender, civil rights, sexual orientation, and what not. It tells me that in this country labor has virtually no protection against arbitrary use of managerial power - and th eonly way to got some of such protection is to re-define that issue as a constitutional right.
>One of the biggest problems with unions and breadwinner incomes is that the
>concept remains gender specific to men. There would be nothing wrong with a
>breadwinner income battle which was gender neutral -- applied to men and
>in the workplace.
True, but the concept of gender roles and is so deeply entrenched that changing it will take years. Add to the fact that it is easier to go after wage ineqality when it is defined as a gender issue (thus a civil rights violation) rather than unfair labor practice (since labor bashing is a virtue in this country) - and the conncetion between work and gender is bound to be perpetuated.