Career & Technical Education

College Isn't For Everyone

An academic degree isn’t the only pathway to success, but women don’t access alternative options as readily as men do. Here’s how to ensure that women have equal opportunity for any jobs they might want.

Men participate in significantly greater numbers than women do in the military, the police force, the fire department, manufacturing jobs and other and in “blue collar” industries, such as construction and plumbing. Creating more opportunities for women in these fields entails addressing biases around gender roles — and expanding access, support and encouragement for women to pursue these fields. That means supporting Career and Technical Education (CTE) training opportunities as a viable alternative pathway for women. Consider these facts:

  • Men hold 3/4 of the jobs requiring only a high school diploma that pay at least $35,000 a year, a higher wage than most entry-level service roles. Around 27% (12.9 million) workers ages 25 to 34 have jobs earning at least $35,000 a year.
  • Around 6% of 16-to-65-year-olds have a professional job certification, 18% have a professional license and 21% have completed a work experience or other training program.
  • Around 24% of jobs (around 16 million jobs) paying $55,000 a year or more require a high school diploma and a certificate, certification, license, associate’s degree or some college coursework.
  • The National Association of Manufacturers and Deloitte estimate that 2.4 million manufacturing jobs could go unfilled through 2028 due to a lack of workers with skills needed to fill  those positions.

What can be done to balance these gender inequities?

  • CTE institutions should prioritize concerted, inclusive outreach efforts, train educators in Title IX gender equity responsibilities and work with employers to establish school-to-work pipelines.  
  • State, municipal and federal policies and funding should focus on ensuring institutions fully implement Title IX and gender equity requirements at CTE institutions. Policies should also stress accountability and improvement plans for increasing women’s enrollment and completion of CTE, and institutions should be required to track and report data. 
  • CTE institutions should have dedicated support and training programs, and apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs in professions with gender imbalances and professions with skill shortages – such as construction and plumbing.