Changing lives: The case for women-only vocational technology training revisited

Els Rommes*, Wendy Faulkner, Irma van Slooten

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)


    Women-only vocational courses in technology, which became popular across Western Europe during the 1980s, had fallen from fashion by 2000. Yet the need for such courses remains, at least in certain circumstances. Drawing on case studies of two women-only courses in information and communications technology (ICT), from the Netherlands and Scotland, it is shown that building the confidence of women whose self-esteem is low is key to any successful inclusion outcomes of such courses. It is also shown that, in order to be effective, the organisation and delivery of such training must involve a ‘heterogeneous’ package of measures. It is argued that women-only vocational training in technology, along the model presented in this article, is needed and works for particular groups of women. Women-only technology training is justified on two further grounds–that the gender dynamics on single-sex courses are generally better for such women than those on mixed-sex courses, and that traditional associations between technology and masculinity are less likely to operate in a women-only setting. Being women-only seems to be especially important in relation to three elements of the training package: positive role model effects, mutual encouragement and support amongst trainees, and the safety to speak openly.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)293-317
    Number of pages25
    JournalJournal of vocational education and training
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


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