Gender and racial differences in vocational education: an international perspective

Yana van der Meulen Rodgers (Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA)
Teresa Boyer (Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Publication date: 1 June 2006



Seeks to examine the extent to which education systems around the world embrace vocational schooling and the degree to which exposure to vocational schooling differs by gender and race.


Uses distributional analysis applied to cross‐country data from Unesco to examine shares of secondary school students enrolled in the vocational track, by gender. Also uses descriptive statistics based on US Department of Education data to examine fields of study within the vocational track.


The emphasis on vocational education and access to different types of training across demographic groups varies considerably around the world. European countries in particular, long known for their heavy emphasis on specialized vocational schooling, have relatively high vocational school shares in secondary school. At the other end of the distribution, almost 30 countries in the sample, most of them low‐income, have vocational school shares below 4 percent. In the majority of countries, a higher share of male secondary school students enroll in the vocational track compared with female students. Latin American countries stand out for having a high female representation among vocational school students. In the USA, male students cluster in trade and industrial courses, while female students cluster in business preparation courses. Also, white students are relatively concentrated in the trades, black and Hispanic students cluster in business courses, and Asian students are concentrated in technical courses.


These stylized facts set the stage for new research on vocational education and for new policy initiatives that create new opportunities for specialization in vocational training.



van der Meulen Rodgers, Y. and Boyer, T. (2006), "Gender and racial differences in vocational education: an international perspective", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 308-320.

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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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