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Report: Career education still segregated

Discussion / Activity

June 13, 2002 Posted: 4:36 PM EDT (2036 GMT)
Report: Career education still segregated

Kathy Slobogin
CNN Washington

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Thirty years ago Congress passed a law barring discrimination against women and girls in education. The law, known as "Title IX," has made a major difference, especially for athletes.

The number of female college athletes is now nearly five times the pre-Title IX rate. There are now 2.78 million high school girls playing competitive sports compared to 300,000 before Title IX.

But there's one area of education where girls are nearly as segregated as they were 30 years ago.

Baby boomers remember vocational education classes -- shop and home economics -- where non-college bound students went to learn a trade. Today's classes -- called career education -- are nothing like the classes of 30 years ago. They are often highly technical and filled with students who are college-bound.

But one thing hasn't changed. The students painting nails and doing hair are girls, The students wiring cars and computers are boys.

CNN's Kathy Slobogin has a look at career education programs that still seem to have girls doing hair and nails, while the boys are doing hi-tech computer work (June 11)

Play video

Last week the National Women's Law Center issued a report that found "pervasive sex segregation" in career education. In an in-depth study of 12 states the Center found that 96 percent of the students in cosmetology classes were girls and so were 87 percent of those in childcare classes. In classes for plumbing, electricians and automotive technology -- professions where wages are more than twice those for cosmetologists -- more than 90 percent of the students were male.

The Center charged schools were doing little to address sex segregation in career education programs and many girls in these classes ran the risk of being left out of the new economy. Girls were clustered in traditionally female classes because of biased counseling, inadequate information being given to girls, and in some cases sexual harassment, according to the report's authors.

CNN visited a school in wealthy Fairfax County, Virginia, that has been a national model for career education. Yet boys outnumber girls in every computer technology class.

In a state-of-the-art class in computer network engineering and design, out of 90 students this year only one was female.

Girls at the school told CNN that they felt ostracized and intimidated in all-male computer classes. They also said many of them didn't know about the high tech classes or the career options they offered.

Click on the video to the right to learn more and to hear what students themselves say about the sexual divide in career education.

• National Women's Law Center

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Updated September 21, 2002

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