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Vocational Training and Gender Segregation Across Europe

Gender Segregation in Vocational Education

ISBN: 978-1-78560-347-1, eISBN: 978-1-78560-346-4

Publication date: 18 November 2015


This chapter seeks to provide insights into a hitherto neglected topic – that of gender segregation among those who have taken part in vocational education and training (VET). In spite of a growing body of work on the link between educational and occupational segregation by gender, relatively little attention has been given to the specific role played by VET in facilitating gender-specific occupational segregation. Using the European Social Survey (ESS) for 20 European countries and comparable macro data from different European sources, the study examines the extent to which cross-national differences in the gender-typical or atypical occupational allocation of vocational graduates aged 20–34 can be attributed to VET-specific institutional differences.

The findings are consistent with earlier research showing the protective role played by VET in reducing non-employment levels. The findings in relation to the gender-typing of work are somewhat surprising, as they indicate that VET system characteristics make relatively little difference to occupational outcomes among women, whether or not they have a VET qualification. Slightly stronger, but still modest, relationships are found between VET system characteristics and occupational outcomes for men. Male VET graduates are more likely to be in a male-typed job in systems with a higher proportion enrolled on vocational courses. In tracked systems, however, they also tend to be more likely to enter female-typed jobs. In systems where VET prepares people for a wider range of occupations, a VET qualification can act as a protective factor against non-employment, at least for men.


Smyth, E. and Steinmetz, S. (2015), "Vocational Training and Gender Segregation Across Europe", Gender Segregation in Vocational Education (Comparative Social Research, Vol. 31), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 53-81.



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