Academic journal article High School Journal

Gender, Career and Technical Education (CTE) Nontraditional Coursetaking, and Wage Gap

Academic journal article High School Journal

Gender, Career and Technical Education (CTE) Nontraditional Coursetaking, and Wage Gap

Article excerpt

The two main objectives of this study were to examine the relationship between high school student (9th-12th) and nontraditional career and technical education (CTE) course taking, and the combined effects of gender and program area on estimated future wage earnings for male and female CTE completers. A Midwestern state CTE database (143,510 male and 125,562 female students) designed to fulfill the data collection requirements mandated by the Perkins IV legislation was utilized to answer the two research questions. Findings from logistic regression showed that gender was a statistically significant predictor of nontraditional course taking pattern, with males taking more nontraditional courses than females. Findings from factorial analysis of variance indicated that the effect of gender on estimated future wage earnings measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics was largely dependent on program area. These findings collectively suggest that although gender pattern in CTE course taking still exists, gender wage gap may be decreasing. Implications of these findings as they relate to educational policy and occupational gender segregation perspective are discussed.

Keywords: career and technical education, education policy, gender difference, Perkins IV legislation, occupational segregation, wage gap


Over the last several decades, the composition of the labor force in the United States has undergone a drastic change due to steadily increasing female workforce participation. As a result, the gender gap in the workforce has narrowed to historic lows, although male participation rates still exceed those of women by approximately 12% (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012]. This relative balance, however, has done little to change the gender composition of specific careers (Construction, Health Sciences, and STEM, to name a few), which remain heavily segregated along gender lines. As recently as 2010, approximately 80% of the jobs classified by the U.S. Census Bureau were filled predominately by one gender. Occupations are still readily identifiable, both statistically and socioculturally, as either male-dominated or female-dominated (Couch & Sigler, 2001; Patterson, 2012; Teig & Susskind, 2008).

This occupational gender segregation has serious social and economic implications. For instance, in terms of the higher-paying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, the majority of employees and students are male. However, because mothers are increasingly relied upon to be the family breadwinner, females now serve as the main source of income in 40% of households with children (Wang, Parker, & Taylor, 2013), thus necessitating a sufficient wage. Female-dominated occupations typically offer lower economic opportunities in terms of salary and earnings potential (Cross & Bagilhole, 2002; Hogue, DuBois, & Fox-Cardamone, 2010; Huffman & Cohen, 2004) and carry a presumption of lower social status (Evans & Diekman, 2009; Weisgram, Bigler, & Liben, 2010; Weisgram, Dinella, & Fulcher, 2011). Conversely, male-dominated fields have historically offered higher salary and benefits (DeNavas-Walt, Proctor, & Smith, 2011; Hogue et al., 2010) as well as higher social status within society at large (Evans & Diekman, 2009; Wesigram et al., 2010; Weisgram et al., 2011). The concentration of women in lower paying fields in general has led to the proliferation of a gender wage gap that continues to favor men (Marlene, 2013). Although the gender wage gap is at an all-time low, yet, based upon weekly wages, women still earn just 82.2% of what men earn (Hegewisch, Williams, & Zhang, 2012) and estimates suggest that it will be another 50 years before true wage parity is realized (Hayes, 2011).

The gender wage gap is not merely a social or economic justice issue. Research indicates that several sociocultural factors contribute to the gender divide in the workforce (Zosuls et al. …

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