Dear Barbara Tavares et. al.,
I haven't closely followed the discussion about career education and
occupational segregation but I read the emails dated 8/11/00.
While I don't specifically know about the history of occupational
segregation and labor legislation, I do know about the history of
vocational education in the United States. I wrote a book entitled The Girl
Question in Education, Vocational Education for Young Women in the
Progressive Era, (?almer, 1992).
Manual Education was introduced into the 19th century elementary school
towards the end of the century. Girls were provided instruction in sewing
and needle arts, boys studied woodworking.
The vocational education movement was launched in the first decade of the
20th century and it lead to the Smith-Hughes Act which provide federal
funding for vocational subjects in schools. There was a small but vocal
group of advocates for coeducational vocational education and accessibility
to the trades for young women. They were not successful given societal
biases about appropriate subjects for young women, and the highly
successful home economics lobby.
Home economics became the centerpiece of federally funded vocational
education for young women, even to the exclusion of commercial education
The politics and economics are more complex than I represent them here,
but the "bottom line" was sex segregation in vocational education and a
halo effect that extended to math and science course work. This wasn't
formally challenged until Title IX of 1972.
San Francisco State University
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