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Gender in vocational education and training: an integrative review

Sarah Ray (Department of Educational Administration and Human Resource Development, Graduate School of Education and Human Development, The George Washington University, Washington, District of Columbia, USA)
Jill Zarestky (School of Education, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA)

European Journal of Training and Development

ISSN: 2046-9012

Article publication date: 26 May 2021




Vocational education and training (VET) programmes are key contributors to skill and talent development for nations worldwide, as aligned with the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs). The purpose of this paper is to explore gender inclusion in VET programmes from an economic feminist (EF) theoretical perspective.


This integrative literature review identified and analysed relevant empirical studies to create a more comprehensive representation of supports for global gender equity and economic growth through VET.


A gap exists between EF theory, human resource development and VET practices. Consequently, instructor preparation and practice do not adequately contribute to equitable workplaces beyond VET programmes. VET programmes continually struggle to create inclusive environments that support women and challenge masculinized fields and workplace norms.

Research limitations/implications

This paper limits empirical studies addressing gender in VET. Future empirical work should investigate the value to students, instructors and communities when masculine industry norms are reconstructed and redesigned for gender inclusivity.

Practical implications

VET advisors and instructors are influential in contextualizing vocational fields for students and influencing students’ career trajectories. Women need more accessible training and employment in traditional masculine industries.


This comprehensive review of gender in VET can aid in inclusivity efforts of programmes and employers and support nations’ efforts to achieve the UN’s SDGs.



Ray, S. and Zarestky, J. (2021), "Gender in vocational education and training: an integrative review", European Journal of Training and Development, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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