|The Impact of Training on Women's Micro-Enterprise Development - Education Research Paper No. 40 (DFID, 2001, 139 p.)|
|Chapter 2: Review of the Literature|
In the more structured and institutionalised arena of technical and vocational education and training (TVET), the same focus on traditional male skills is to be found and the same dearth of literature on TVET for women. This literature has also failed to differentiate between female and male training needs, the different types of constraints they experience in accessing the labour market, their differing level of knowledge and skill at the point of entry to training programmes, the level of resources that they command (including credit) when setting up a small business, and their anticipated outcomes. Some of the publications referred to above also deal with vocational education and/or training, albeit within the context of SMEs, self-employment and the informal sector. Others, Middleton et al (1991, 1993), Middleton and Demsky (1989), Schweitzer (1994), Gray et al (1993), Bennell (1999b) look at broad issues around policies, investments and outcomes of vocational education and training, and the development of systems of vocational training. Some of this relates to formal school-based vocational or pre-vocational education, some to non-formal vocational training in vocational training institutes. It was partly because vocational training programmes focused almost exclusively on skills appropriate for formal employment that training schemes for SME and self-employment (as reviewed above) were developed. As with the literature on training for SME development, the male focus of the TVET literature has merely served to keep women invisible in the labour market, and in so doing to reinforce the gendered nature of the workplace.
The World Bank's 1991 policy paper Technical and Vocational Education and Training is typical of this, only finding space for one and a half pages out of 72 to discuss the problems that women face in the labour market and the type of training programme needed to address them. The rest of the document is silent on women's contribution to the economy.
The emphasis of vocational training programmes on traditional male skill areas has meant that male students dominate in the better resourced 'real' vocational areas such as electronics, industrial design, carpentry and plumbing etc, while girls are confined to commercial studies (secretarial), dressmaking and catering etc. The information and communication technology (ICT) revolution has added a new male dominated area of expertise, despite the fact that it requires keyboard skills, a traditional female area - women are largely relegated to word processing while men take on the more complex and exciting technical aspects of ICT work. Even where women have been able to enrol in male dominated skill areas, this has not resulted in increased numbers. As Ellis (1990) has pointed out, the experience in the Caribbean where girls outnumber boys at all levels of education, and where there are more women with professional or technical training, there is still a gender stereotyped selection of subjects. And Coombe (1988) found that the Commonwealth experience of vocational education for girls revealed that, even where governments had introduced positive discrimination to encourage girls to enrol in technical courses, and in some cases had introduced quotas, in practice social and cultural conventions, peer pressure and the fear of sexual harassment continued to deter girls from joining. Mbilinyi and Mbughuni's (1991) study of education in Tanzania showed that girls were very under-represented in TVET (20.7 percent of trainees in 1989), continued to be found in the traditional female skill areas, and risked being further marginalised by the emphasis on 'modern' skills in high level technology.