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Vocational Training in Blue-Collar Communities Helps Boys, Disadvantages Girls

While schools don’t bar girls from taking welding or maritime courses, traditional gender roles were staunchly maintained during my own visits to schools offering career-and-technical programs in Texas, Colorado, and Nevada over the last year. Girls were overwhelmingly concentrated in cosmetology and childcare courses. Hairdressers typically earn less than $30,000 a year. Childcare workers earn only $20,320, on average. Both auto mechanics and welders, on the other hand, pull in north of $40,000.  

Shaun M. Dougherty, a professor at the University of Connecticut who was not involved in the study but has followed career-and-technical education closely, said he’s heard from young women who are interested in pursuing something like auto mechanics and have an aptitude for the work, but opt out of such training in high school because the field has traditionally been dominated by men, and persistent gender stereotypes remain.