In its June 27, 2013 study titled, “Workplace Investment System Reinforces Gender Segregation and the Gender Wage Gap,” the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found Workforce Investment Act (WIA)-funded training demonstrates “stark gender segregation in the jobs and careers for which women and men receive training.”  For example, over 47 percent of female WIA customers received training in the sales, clerical, and service (i.e. personal care aide) fields as compared to 14.6 percent of male WIA customers.  On the other hand, less than six percent of women received training in the fields of installation, repair, production, transportation, material moving, fishing, forestry, construction, and extraction skills as compared to more than 52 percent of men who received such WIA-funded training.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research further found, based on economic data maintained by the U.S. Labor Department, “Women’s quarterly earnings are substantially lower than men’s once they exit federal workforce training services.”  The Institute asserts this wage gap between men and women differed by 74.6 percent in 2011.

Based on the significant disparities between men and women in training and wages, the Institute maintains “[m]ore proactive career counseling may encourage women’s entry into higher-earning, high-demand fields, and significantly enhance their chances of reaching economic self-sufficiency.”

To read this study in its entirety, go to

So, if you work in the area of equal opportunity, job referrals, job training, or the like at an American Job Network center or Job Corps center, you must be aware of whether these gender-based disparities in your WIA-funded programs and activities are occurring and, if so, you are required to take steps to offer training and other programs in a nondiscriminatory manner to men and women.  This means that women should not automatically be channeled to lower paying, or “traditional” fields; rather, each customer’s educational level, skills, and abilities must be reviewed and, regardless of gender, the customer should be afforded the fullest opportunity to pursue training for fields considered “non-traditional” for his or her gender.  The focus should be on whether the customer meets the “essential eligibility requirements” for a particular training program, not on the customer’s gender.

About Seena Foster

Seena Foster, award-winning civil rights author and Partner of the discrimination consulting firm, Title VI Consulting, LLP in Alexandria, Virginia, provides expertise and guidance in the areas of compliance and civil rights investigations to state and local governments, colleges and universities, private companies, and non-profit organizations. To that end, she offers Webinars, full-day and half-day in-person training sessions, assistance developing procedures, and mediation services addressing a variety of types of discrimination such as racial discrimination, sex discrimination, disability discrimination, age discrimination, and religious discrimination. The federal law on discrimination is complex and affects our workplaces as well as the delivery of our federally-funded programs and activities. Her book, Civil Rights Investigations Under the Workforce Investment Act and Other Title VI Related Laws: From Intake to Final Determination, has been described as an “eye-opening” reading experience and a “stand-alone” training resource. Ms. Foster’s resources and materials are designed to support the work of civil rights and discrimination professionals in the public and private sectors. You may contact her through