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Suggested Citation:"17 Commentary." National Research Council. 1984. Sex Segregation in the Workplace: Trends, Explanations, Remedies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/58.
Page 308
Suggested Citation:"17 Commentary." National Research Council. 1984. Sex Segregation in the Workplace: Trends, Explanations, Remedies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/58.
Page 309

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17 commentary WENDY C. WOLF The paper by Waite and Berryman deals with the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) system and its record in providing access to nontraditional jobs. CETA represented a potential area of fed- eral intervention but also a potential force that may have perpetuated sex-segregated job choice. It also represented a system in which there had been considerable effort during the last decade to improve services to women and, in fact, to improve nontra- ditional options for women. When inspect- ing this system, one could look at the rec- ord that is, have the kinds of services improved (i.e., offering nontraditional op- tions)? What is the impact of this system itself on women and men? Before commenting on this paper, it is critical to consider a little history. In 1978 there were considerable changes in the CETA legislation to make it more responsive to the needs of women, both in terms of serving them in numbers relative to their propor- tion in the eligible population and in trying to increase their nontraditional options. Un- fortunately, the data used by Berryman and Waite came from the pre-1978 period. So they are looking at the CETA system prior 308 to the time that this "new" legislation took effect. The relevant question to be answered is, therefore, how was CETA doing before this additional emphasis was put on services to women. Another critical point to consider is that Berryman and Waite often mention public service employment (PSE). PSE has been out of vogue for a while. For this reason, the focus of my comments is on classroom training, on-thejob "raining, end adult work experience. Even prior to the 1978 amendments, which were designed to encourage the expansion of nontraditional opportunities for women, there were slightly increasing proportions of women moving into nontraditional jobs within CETA and into nontraditional train- ing, despite the fact that, within CETA, the overall proportion of women being exposed to nontraditional options was not high. But the CETA system was not keeping pace with women's changing aspirations. An inspec- tion of the aspirations of women for nontra- ditional work reveals they were rising at a faster rate than was the opening up of non- traditional career options within CETA. It is interesting to note that the aspirations

COMMENTARY _ 309 among women tor nontraditional work were growing (which I think is very divergent from the evidence Marini and Brinton present in Chapter 11 about high school girls) but that the whole system wasn't changing fast enough to accommodate these changes. Berryman and Waite show the relation- ship between aspiration and the type of service received. Of the women who had traditionally female aspirations, 77 percent were placed in female-typed jobs; of those with male aspirations, 41.5 percent were placed in male-typed jobs, and 40 percent into female-typed jobs; of those with "mixed" aspirations, 46.8 percent were placed in mixed occupations, and 43 percent into fe- male-typed occupations. This suggests that if one enters the CETA system with non- traditional aspirations, one is likely to get funneled into female-typed jobs anyway. The Berryman and Waite paper makes a big deal about wages I am less likely to be so exciter] about this issue. The National Research Council's Committee on Evalua- tion of Employment and Training Programs once produced a table showing male-female differences in wages in CETA. It showed that women earned 90 percent of what men earned in CETA. This is a bit misleading, however, in part due to the fact that within CETA there was a floor and a ceiling on wages, thus little variation. I have one minor caution about Berryman and Waite's analysis. They talk about as- signment either to on-thejob training or classroom training and how that increases or decreases one's likelihood of being in or getting into a sex-typed job. One has to be careful about assuming directionality be- tween the two. The fact is that clerical train- ing occurs in the classroom. So if a CETA participant is going into clerical training, he or she is assigned to classroom training. So I don't really think that you can treat one as exogenous and one as endogenous. They are jointly determined. This paper shows some potential for change in the CETA system, especially since it was done in the preamendment days. It also shows that the CETA system has helpec] perpetuate the status quo in terms of oc- cupational segregation. It is important to realize that Berryman and Waite describe CETA before the 1978 amendments. From 1978 to 1983, specific language was added to the law to encourage sex equity and the movement of women into nontraditional jobs. It should be noted that in the new lob Training Partnership Act, very little proscriptive language is includes! to help legislate fair ant] equitable treatment for women.

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How pervasive is sex segregation in the workplace? Does the concentration of women into a few professions reflect their personal preferences, the "tastes" of employers, or sex-role socialization? Will greater enforcement of federal antidiscrimination laws reduce segregation? What are the prospects for the decade ahead? These are among the important policy and research questions raised in this comprehensive volume, of interest to policymakers, researchers, personnel directors, union leaders—anyone concerned about the economic parity of women.

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