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Distinctive features of culture industries suggest that women culture workers face formidable barriers to career advancement. Using longitudinal data on the careers of screenwriters, we examine gender inequality in the labor market for writers of feature films. We hypothesize and test three different models of labor market dynamics and find support for a model of cumulative disadvantage whereby the gender gap in earnings grows as men and women move through their careers. We suggest that the transition of screenwriting from a mixed to a male-dominated occupation parallels the "empty field" phenomenon described in a study by Tuchman of nineteenth-century novelists. The institutionalization of male dominance of the film industry in the 1930s and the typecasting of women writers has had a lasting impact on gender inequality, which shows little change through the early 1990s.

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