[EDEQUITY Discussion]Opening Statement for Career Education

From: CFlood@aol.com
Date: Wed Aug 09 2000 - 17:08:10 EDT

The issue of "choice" and how choices are made by women and men is far more

complex than the assumptions so casually refelcted in the statement, "Women

are grown people who make their own CHOICES in life." Having worked to
expand career and life choices for all students the past 20 years, there
far too many factors at play that influence how we make choices to expect
that everyone as an adult feels as if they have access to the full pallet
choices available. Our work has been about preparing students to make
"informed choices." This is one of the major responsibilites of
education...to provide the information, coursework and educational
experiences that maximize a full range of choices that lead to both
self-sufficiency and well-being. It is not just about the dollars,
certainly, but the need for all students to understand the likelihood of
having to be economically self-sufficient is the reality today.

First, with respect to career choices you have to "know" the choices are
there to be made. Next, one needs to understand the potential benefits
financial and lifestyle related) of making that choice. More broadly,
students need to know the overall benefits of keeping options open through
the coursework chosen, such as mathematics and science. In working with
vocational education and training agencies, I can assure you that the
recruitment efforts are not targeted nor do they provide that kind of
information for both girls and boys. The participation rates reflect that
and, by default, continue to be heavily male dominated; particularly in the

technical areas.

One of the major reasons the reasons we still see the less than 10%
participation of girls and young women in the these areas is because the
girls are not being shown they have a place there. And let's not ignore the

influence of the attitudes of many vocational educaors about the place of
females in their programs. The stories abound. I have experienced them
first hand in my work and know that they serve to directly limit female
participation. These points are inarguable and the numbers clearly reflect
that reality. Truly "informed choices" just don't happen and the notion
"women are grown people" free to choose is a less than informed statement.
Freedom to choose works best when all of those who have the "freedom" have

also been given the information that enables and empowers their freedom.
This is what being affirmative means and it is still necessary. Without
occupational segregation persists through uninformed choices.

We had learned a great deal about the success and effectiveness of
affirmative programs and approaches developed through the equity set-asides

in the Perkins legislation. We were beginning to reap those benefits when
they were written out of the legislation. Sadly, the retrenchment to
"business as usual" practice we are seeing in many vocational education
programs is illustrated by the still appallingly low participation rates of

girls and women in non-traditional areas.

And so the critics do not assume I am only speaking about girls and women,
are still falling short in preparing our boys and young men about the
they have with respect to participating more equally in families, for
example. Knowing that Sommers, in "The War Against Boys," points to the
importance of fathers in boys lives clearly points to the need for boys to
socialized and edcucated with the "information" necessary to prepare them
those critical roles in life. Drawing on the statistics about fatherless
households, it is obvious that many boys and men are not just growing up
these days knowing the importance of this and then "freely" choosing to
participate in more healthy ways in families. Just as grils need to "see
their place" at the table in nontraditional occupations, boys need to see
their place in the family.

Last, to assume that gender, race, SES, etc. has not and does not still
influence how and to whom all that information is provided and how choices
ultimately made is grounded in little more than simplistic and egalitarian
assumptions about freedom and equal oportunities.

Craig P. Flood

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