|Trading Choices: Young people's career decisions and gender segregation in the trades
This report draws on the narratives of 86 young men and women (in pathways dominated by their own — or the opposite — sex). The findings help to explain why many trades-related occupations continue to be heavily gender segregated despite today’s emphasis on equal opportunities, individual choice, and limitless possibilities.
Across a range of decision making contexts (family, friends, school, and the trades), gender stereotypes and discourses have a major influence on young people as they imagine and try out possible selves. While this makes certain career paths and identities more accessible depending on one’s gender, some of the young tradeswomen we interviewed disrupted this picture. Their stories provide insight into factors that appear to open up nontraditional trades-related pathway options.
We build on past equality/equity strategies and young people’s own suggestions to look at possibilities for the future. Recent shifts in the economic landscape — the knowledge society, a new work order, and a culture of innovation — suggest that we need programmes designed to develop the skills of the future, and we suspect these skills will encourage a more even spread of women and men into a transformed (and far more amorphous) trades-related workforce. We also suggest that Ministry of Women’s Affairs might also keep a “gender lens” on recent cross-agency initiatives designed to assist young people in career decision making.