AAUW Welcomes Department of Education Guidance on Gender Equity in Career and Technical Education

Woman working in a factory with sparks
June 16, 2016

AAUW applauds the recent release of new Title IX guidance to ensure that all students have access to career and technical education programs free from sex discrimination. The Dear Colleague letter, released by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) and Office for Civil Rights (OCR), clarifies existing legal obligations for recipients of federal education funding to ensure that all students, regardless of their sex or gender, have equal access to the full range of career and technical education (CTE) programs offered. Forty-four years after Title IX outlawed sex segregation in education, women and girls are still sorely underrepresented in CTE programs that are nontraditional for their gender. Despite the increasing demand for highly skilled workers in today’s 21st century global economy and the increased importance of women’s role as family breadwinners, women continue to be overwhelmingly clustered in low-wage, low-skill jobs.

“The barriers women face accessing CTE courses in higher-wage, traditionally male occupations are not simply a women’s issue — they’re a family issue,” said Lisa Maatz, AAUW’s vice president of government relations and National Coalition of Women and Girls in Education chair. “Families increasingly rely on women’s wages to make ends meet, yet women face barriers to nontraditional CTE programs due to implicit bias, stereotyping, and sex-based harassment, as well as peer pressure to avoid nontraditional classes and careers. Furthermore, as the guidance points out, men may also face discriminatory barriers to fulfilling careers in traditionally female occupations,” Maatz added.

The guidance highlights the role Title IX coordinators play in ensuring gender equity in CTE programs, including monitoring student participation to make sure sex discrimination does not cause disproportionate enrollment or otherwise affect students’ access to education opportunities in CTE programs.

“AAUW and our coalition partners have been pushing for this guidance for a long time because the nation’s evolving workplaces require equitable access to CTE courses for all workers — regardless of their gender,” said Maatz. AAUW supports this effort to inform schools, school districts, colleges, universities, and institutions of career and technical education about how they can increase women’s participation in CTE in high-wage, high-skill fields. This guidance is a great step toward ensuring that women and girls have access to high-demand CTE programs and that they are not being left behind or underutilized in this modern, global economy.


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By:   |   June 16, 2016