Research Finds That High School Vocational Training Benefits Men More Than Women

suttonA new study led by April Sutton, a Frank H.T. Rhodes Postdoctoral Fellow at the Cornell Population Center at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, finds that vocational education for young men in high school leads to better paying blue-collar jobs. However, such training does not appear to have the same benefits for young women.

The study found that high school training in blue-collar communities reduced both men’s and women’s odds of enrolling in a four-year college but led to different outcomes for men and women when they looked for jobs. Men in these communities enrolled in greater numbers of blue-collar-related vocational courses in high school, had higher rates of blue-collar employment and earned comparable wages relative to men who attended high school in non-blue-collar communities. In sharp contrast, women who attended high school in blue-collar communities were less likely to be employed at all and less likely to work in professional occupations when they were employed. They also earned far less than their female counterparts from non-blue-collar communities.

“This has been a real blind spot in the public discussion: the assumption that men and women would equally benefit from high school training for local blue-collar jobs,” Dr. Sutton said.

Dr. Sutton is a summa cum laude graduate of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she majored in sociology and American studies. She earned a Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Texas at Austin.

The study, “Manufacturing Gender Inequality in the New Economy: High School Training for Work in Blue-Collar Communities,” was published in the June 29 issue of the American Sociological Review. It may be accessed here.

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