Women Still Underrepresented in Technical Education Programs

Washington, D.C. — March 20

Research released Wednesday shows that women and girls are still underrepresented in career and technical education (CTE) programs that prepare students for careers in high-paying occupations in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), the skilled trades and other occupations traditionally done by men. Two coalitions for women’s education and job training call for the reauthorization and strengthening of the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to improve women’s and girls’ access to these programs.

Women and girls make up fewer than one in four students in STEM CTE programs, fewer than one in six students in manufacturing and architecture- and construction-related CTE programs, and fewer than one in 10 students in transportation, distribution and logistics CTE programs.

Yet, women and girls comprise more than 80 percent of students at the post-secondary level enrolled in CTE programs in human services, preparing them for lower-paying positions in child care and hairdressing.

“It is important that training for higher-paying occupations includes women and girls, and that girls are introduced to nontraditional careers at a young age,” said Barbara Gault, vice president and executive director of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a member organization of the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education (NCWGE).

The Perkins Act promotes more gender equity in training programs and includes accountability measures for states. “Many state and local CTE directors count the nontraditional accountability measure and the accompanying provisions in the Perkins Act among the key reasons for their state’s success in improving students’ participation in and completion of nontraditional CTE programs,” said Mimi Lufkin, chief executive officer of the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity.

The findings in the report are based on a new analysis by NCWGE and the National Coalition of Women, Jobs and Job Training of state-by-state reports on student enrollment and course completion in secondary and post-secondary career and technical education that were submitted to the U.S. Department of Education. The research shows some states are performing significantly better than others.

Source: Institute for Women’s Policy Research