Panel Paper: A Review of Barriers and Strategies Aimed at Increasing Women’s Participation in NTO Training Programs for Women

Saturday, November 10, 2018
8209 - Lobby Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Ariane Hegewisch1, Neha Nanda2, Carolyn Corea2 and Luke Patterson2, (1)Institute for Women's Policy Research, (2)IMPAQ International, LLC

Occupational gender segregation is substantial in the United States, particularly in middle-skill jobs. Women’s underrepresentation in many technical and trade occupations exacerbates skill shortages and is a substantial contributor to the gender wage gap. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act defines non-traditional occupations (NTOs) as occupations for which individuals from one gender comprise less than 25 percent of the individuals employed in such occupations; tackling occupational gender segregation has been an explicit goal of federal workforce and educational policies for several decades. Yet while many occupations have become more integrated, others have seen very little change in women’s overall share of employment, education, or training.

This paper reports on a high-level literature review of career and workforce and education-related strategies that have been implemented to address an individual’s barriers to entering NTOs conducted for the U.S. Department of Labor. The review focused on the identification of “evidence-based” strategies or programs to improve participation from women and underrepresented minorities. The presentation will begin by outlining key barriers identified for entry and retention to NTO-related training and education programs such as bias communicated through career materials, mechanisms and practices, lack of supportive services, and access to and participation in STEM programs. It will then discuss the evidence base for strategies to address those barriers. The paper will focus particularly on workforce development, community based training programs, and apprenticeship programs.

The review identified several promising practices pointing to the role of career counseling, support services such as child care and transportation assistance, case management, gender aware instruction methodologies, mentoring models, and targeted outreach campaigns. Yet, overall there is a dearth of quantitative studies using rigorous methodologies to evaluate the effectiveness of such strategies. Most promising strategies identified for addressing barriers to NTOs have not been rigorously tested. This lack of evidence-based research creates challenges for policymakers and program administrators seeking to create better opportunities for women in NTOs. Promising strategies for addressing barriers to NTOs must be rigorously evaluated in order to inform future policies and programs.

Full Paper: