Women Leaders of Craft Fields

Women Leaders of Craft Fields




A Review of Literature:

Women Leaders Engaged in Career & Technical Education of Craft-Technology Fields

Jenny L. Saplis

Work & Human Resource Education Doctoral Candidate at the University of Minnesota

Principal Instructor of Arts & Sciences at Dunwoody College of Technology

Minneapolis, MN

Structured Abstract

Purpose: The aim of this doctoral research proposal is to formulate a theory for the process women engaged in the career and technical education (CTE) of traditionally male craft-technological fields took in order to reach their current occupational status. These traditionally male craft-technological fields are also known as non-traditional occupations (NTOs) for women and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields

Design & Approach:Within the Constructivist paradigm realm, Grounded Theory has been chosen as no current theory has been developed that could inform the research topic. A constant comparative photovoice data collection method will be used to discover the participant’s journey in male craft technological fields.

Research Limitations / Implications: Photovoice is known to have limitations, which is why the constant comparative photovoice data collection method involves more than just photo analysis. In-depth Interviews and focus groups will be utilized, as well as the analysis of participant journaling.

Practical Implications:A theory about the career development of women engaged in the CTE of traditionally male craft-technological fields could inform policy makers and human resource development practitioners on how to better support these women.

Social Implications:Women considering a similar vocation or path could be influenced by the success of women currently in those fields.

Originality / Value:Photovoice is a creative and pioneering approach to qualitative interviewing. Additionally, the interpretations and experiences of women engaged in the CTE of traditionally male craft-technological fields have also not been thoroughly analyzed.

Keywords: Women Leaders, Non-Traditional Occupations, Craft-Technology, STEM

A Review of Literature:

Women Leaders Engaged in Career & Technical Education of Craft-Technology Fields

For most of the twentieth century, the Unites States boasted that it had the best educational institutions of higher learning that produced the most educated graduates in the world. Changes over the last thirty years have seen a decline in the quality of these institutions and the graduates they produce, as well as how many graduates even obtain degrees (Selingo, 2013). To combat the nation’s educational dilemmas, President Obama’s 2009 science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) speechdelivered at the National Academy of Sciences has been likened to John F. Kennedy’s Go to the Moon speech due to its significance in history (Richards, 2009). The speech introduced two educational reform goals for the year 2020: increase the number of high school graduates in the U.S. in order to once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world; and to ensure that students in the U.S. become superior internationally in science and math (Richards, 2009). A significant barrier for increasing the STEM workforce was identified as “disparities in STEM employment by sex” because while women accounted for nearly half of the nation’s workforce, they only hold 25 percent of STEM careers(Landivar, 2013, p. 1).President Obama and his administration proposed that increasing the number of female’s engaged in STEM fields was “critical to our nation’s ability to out-build, out-educate, and out-innovate future competitors” (Execitive Office of the President, 2013, p. 1).

Problem Area

STEM fieldshave remained male-dominated and patriarchal as men still hold a significantly larger proportion of degrees awarded in STEM fields (The White House Council on Women and Girls, 2013).Feminists argue that the STEM crisis reportedly being faced in the United States reportedly fails to “recognize that it is now the lack of skill but rather the lack of social, economic, and educational opportunities that hinders advancement in STEM” (Mansfield, et al., 2014, p. 1173).A gap has been shown to exist historically in the STEM education of males and females (U.S. Department of Education, 2014).

Research suggests that disparities between the sexes in STEM areas began in early childhood. Girls as young as grade four begin to score slightly below boys on science achievement tests, and more boys than girls take advanced placement exams in STEM-related subjects (The White House Council on Women and Girls, 2013). Finally, even women who earn STEM degrees are less likely than their male counterparts to work in STEM occupations(The White House Council on Women and Girls, 2013, p. 52).

Research on what attracts adolescents to STEM careers suggests parents can have a big impact on choices, such as offering gender-specific advice to sons to obtain breadwinning careers and for daughters to prepare for family obligations (Medved, et al., 2006, p. 176).Research has also indicated parents can be supportive of their daughters’ interest in STEM education, but showed major concerns about their success in a man’s world (Buschor, et al., 2014, p. 749). Parents have also been seen as change-agents for girls, as they have influenced their daughters’ choices to not pursue traditionally male craft-technology subjects (Smyth & Darmody, 2009). Additionally, research indicates girls have received messages from family members and teachers to pursue occupations enabling financial independence so “they do not have to depend on anyone else” while boys have received messages to pursue well-paying careers to “put food on the table” (Jahn & Myers, 2014, p. 95).

Participatory action research conducted to understand girls’ attitudes towards science education indicated that an inquiry-based applied laboratory-learning environment contributed positively to their overall learning experience. The lab teacher also played a critical role in the girls’ attitudes (Buck, et al., 2014). Research has also suggested adolescents are highly influenced by role models currently in STEM fields about their experiences and successes (Jahn & Myers, 2014; Drury, et al., 2011).Further research has indicated girls feel pride over being unique in STEM fields as one of only a small number of females (Buschor, et al., 2014; Buschor, et al., 2014).

Patriarchal and male-dominated STEM fields may also be known as non-traditional occupations (NTOs) for women, which have been defined by law as those occupations in which women make up less than 25 percent of the workers in the occupation. In 1992, Many STEM occupations that are NTOs are viewed as traditionally male craft-technological subjects such as metal work, woodworking, and technical graphics (Smyth & Darmody, 2009). TheUnited States Department of Labor Women’s Bureau holds a list of over 115 NTOs, which include traditionally male craft-technological subjects such as electricity, welding, computer programming, industrial engineering, and construction programs (United States Department of Labor Women's Bureau, 2013). These craft-technological subjects are often viewed as lower status than other STEM subjects such as physics and advanced mathematics, and have not been the focus of much research.

Women leaders are rare in NTOs, but they “are out there, innovating, designing, researching, and teaching, but because some women in STEM have opted for careers that defy categorization,” they can be harder to identify (Lahey, 2014). Educators are leaders in their classroomsand could be classified as transformational leaders, as they attempt to empower and lift their students by appealing to their values beyond their self-interests (Grint, 2010). Within the craft-technological subjects, some women have been able to navigate the traditionally male culture and develop in their careers to be leaders.Some women leaders in STEM fields and other NTOs are engaged in Career and Technical Education (CTE), which prepares students for vocations in craft-technological subjects that are based on manual or applied activities specifically related to a precise trade or occupation (Whitehead, 2013).

Significance of Study

Despite policy initiatives and programs, women who pursue careers in traditionally male craft-technology fields have historically faced obstacles and challenges that impeded their career aspirations. Additionally, women’s experiences in traditionally male craft-technology fields have not been the focus of much research.The study of the lived experience of women leaders engaged in CTE of traditionally male craft-technology fields can inform policy makers and higher education institutions about the special needs and concerns of this population so changes can be made in order to encourage increased participation. As First Lady Obama said:

“If we’re going to out-innovate and out-educate the rest of the world, we’ve got to open doors for everyone.We need all hands on deck, and that means clearing hurdles for women and girls as they navigate careers in science, technology, engineering, and math” (Obama, 2011).

Chapter Two: Review of Literature

Theliterature presented first contains a historical review of career and technical education. Constructions and theories will be reviewed with literature regarding work, sex and gender, the women’s ways of knowing (WWK) theory, along with otheridentity theories toprovide a lens for analyzing how participants describe their personal identities and epistemology. This literature also includesa review of the meaning of work for women in two different environments: traditionally male craft-technological fields which are non-traditional occupations (NTOs) and STEM fieldsand in the post-secondary professorate.

Career and Technical Education

Sincethe Second World War, many different policies and laws have been passed regarding vocational education and the technical training of women. For example, in 1963 the Equal Pay Act called for an end to discrimination on the basis of sex in payment and wages for equal work. In 1964 the Civil Rights Act prohibited discrimination in the workplace on the basis of gender, race, national origin, or handicap. In 1972, Title IX banned discrimination on the basis of sex in educational institutions and programs (Gordon, 2014). Title IX stated “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination”in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance (Shelton & Berndt, 1974, p. 1135).

The Non-traditional Employment for Women (NEW) Act was enacted in 1991 to provide states with incentives for establishing training programs for low-income women. In 1992, the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau launched the Women in Apprenticeships and Non-traditional Occupations (WANTO) program, which offered grants to community-based nonprofit organizations to train women for nontraditional or technical occupations (Gordon, 2014). Evidence indicates that NEW and WANTO were successful in increasing opportunities for women, but they were modest policies that created only small changes in overall occupational segregation (Erickson & Palladino Schultheiss, 2009).

In 2006, the Carl D. Perkins Center Career and Technical Educational Improvement Act caused U.S. educational institutions to replace the term vocational as standard and instead adapt the term Career and Technical Education (CTE) within their lexicon.

Theories and Constructions

Nietzsche began Beyond Good and Evil, “suppose that truth is a woman-what then? Is there not ground for suspecting that all philosophers, insofar as they have been dogmatists, have failed to understand women…” (Nietzsche, 1907, p. xxiii). As Nietzsche suggests, women have been misunderstood, so perhaps then so have their personal epistemologies. Individual epistemologies or ways of knowing are important to study for the purpose of argument because “beliefs about knowledge and knowing have a powerful influence on learning”(Hofer, 2002, p. 13). A “theory of women’s psychology, development, and ways of knowing” was developed collaboratively in 1986 known as Women’s Ways of Knowing (WWK) (Goldberger, et al., 1996, p. xi). WWK resulted in five major categories that describe the “ways of knowing that women have cultivated and learned to value”: Silence, Received Knowledge, Subjective Knowledge, Procedural Knowledge, and Constructed Knowledge. (Belenky, et al., 1997, p. 15).

Identity is a sense of one’s goals, beliefs, values, and life roles. Identity includes elements such as gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, social class, religious beliefs, and work. Identity development is the process of exploring and deciding on positionality within elements of identity (Dillon, et al., 2012). Social identity theory involves “an individual’s self-concept which derives from his [sic] knowledge of his [sic] membership of a social group (or groups) together with the emotional significance attached to that membership” (Tajfel, 1974, p. 69). Social identity theory has three primary tenets: social categorization into groups; social comparison between these groups; and social identification (Spears, 2012).Individuals then define themselves in terms of their group membership and ascribe characteristics that are typical of the group to themselves (Knippenberg, 2000). Intersectionality is the perspective that the social categories an individual claims membership with intersect to form a whole (Shields, 2008). Intersectionality affects people positively or negatively based on their positionality in society (Brown, et al., 2000).

Work is “central to human existence, providing the necessities for life, sources of identity, opportunities for achievement, and determining standing within the larger community” (Ardichvili & Kuchinke, 2009, p. 155). Research on women in non-traditional occupations (NTOs) suggests their career motivation can be affected by their perceptions about whether or notthey fit in with the prototypical members of an occupation(Peters, et al., 2013). For example, research on the reasons women in the engineering field have thought about leaving the profession include a variety of climate related barriers such as being belittled, being insulted, being held back, and being in companies where women are treated in a condescending, patronizing manner by senior managers and co-workers (Fouad & Singh, 2013).

Feminist psychologist Bem wrote “hidden assumptions about sex and gender remain embedded in cultural discourses, social institutions, and individual psyches that invisibly and systemically reproduce male power in generation after generation” (1993, p. 2). This power “and control is reproduced through the hierarchical structure of organizations and through everyday relations between individuals” (Seymour, 2009, p. 243). Additionally, these powers have been reported to “create and maintain discriminatory and oppressive situations for women in the family, workplace, and educational institutions” (Hayes & Smith, 1994, p. 211). Gendered messages delivered through educational texts, mass media, institutional norms, and cultural scripts have been described as “not necessarily overtly sexist, but communicate hidden messages that may be internalized by perpetrators and victims” (Sue, 2010, p. 164).

Gendered actions and messages have also been labeled microaggressions, which are “brief and commonplace daily verbal or behavioral indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative gender slights and insults,” and can have a potentially harmful impact on women (Sue, 2010, p. 164).A study of women and their experiences with gender microaggressions revealed several major themes such as sexual objectification of their bodies, references that indicate women are second-class citizens who do not deserve the same opportunities as men, assumptions of inferiority about women’s abilities, and indirect or direct sexist language(Capodilupo, et al., 2010)

The roles and behavior deemed appropriate to the sexes have been “expressed in values, customs, laws, and social roles” (Lerner, 1986, p. 212). Gender identity theory has been described as repeatedly performed acts and gestures that create the illusion of gender, which is regulated by the “norms and conventions that restrict or eviscerate the conditions of life itself” (Butler, 1990, p. 34). The gender identities of women in the workplace can be affected by male dominance or the proportional representation of women in positions of power (Ely, 1995). Research on women in NTOs revealed some actively performed masculinity and often acted like one of the boys. For example, women in engineering were found to have often adopted and anti-woman approach, which created a gender-identity conflict (Powell, et al., 2009). Subsequently for acting like one of the guys, some womenwere then labeledbutchand subject to the accusation of being a lesbian, known to some men in the electrical industry as being a member of the nippling crew (Moccio, 2009, p. 93).

Research has indicated feminist identities have been constructed from a woman’s social gender identity, her exposure to feminism, and her gender-egalitarian attitude. Additionally, a women’s feminist identity can significantly predict her how she will cope with sexual harassment. Research with undergraduate students suggested that a woman’s informed feminist identity had a possible impact on effective coping responses to sexism (Leaper & Arias, 2011).

Meaning of Work for Women in Craft-Technology Fields

The meaning of work (MOW) for women has historically included the documented issues of sex discrimination, penalties for family considerations, pay inequities, and occupational segregation (Mastracci, 2004). The achievements of a very few women who overcame those issues have led to reverse discrimination rhetoric, severe cuts in vocational and technical sex-equity programs, and reductions in affirmative action policies (Howe, 1977).

Women who work in the areas of STEM andNTOs will earn on average 33 percent more than their counterparts in other fields (The White House Council on Women and Girls, 2013). However, stereotypes remain that perpetuate the impression that women lack what it takes to succeed in STEM and NTOs (Caleo & Heilman, 2013, p. 149). Additionally, stereotypes such as women are nurturers and are naturally attracted to fields that allow them to high levels of personal engagement (Jones, 2015). Women have been reportedly “shut out of the boys club in the workplace” either in subtle or more direct ways (Jones, 2015, p. 43). For example, women have reported being talked over and interrupted, having ideas rejected, or being silenced with intimidation (Jones, 2015). Research has suggested three common themes that represent socially based problems for women in NTOs: continual skepticism by male workers; sexual harassment by males in the workplace; and feelings of personal inadequacy because they are isolated in a male dominated setting (Riemer & Bridwell, 1982).