“Women in men’s fields”: Gender discourses in secondary vocational schools

Maria Paola Sevilla, Francisca Carvajal


In secondary vocational technical education (VET) there is a strong gender segmentation between different fields of study linked to different status and salaries. In particular, women are a minority in trade schools in which the structures and cultures reinforce the masculine image of the professions. Based on 19 interviews conducted in six schools from three regions of Chile, this article analyzes the principal and teacher discourses displayed in these environments. We identified three discursive positions according to the approach of the students' gender: (1) invisible gender, as considering gender as not proper category to address school issues, (2) binary positions gender, that naturalizes and acclaim traditional roles distinguished by biological sex, (3) gender visible at outside, that shows inequities between men and women but in the labor market. The article concludes that the three discursive positions by making invisible, normalizing or situating gender inequalities outside the school space, neglect teacher positions of responsibility and agency to transform school cultures and structures in schools that perpetuate the sexual division of work.


vocational-technical education; teacher narratives; discourse analysis; gender stereotypes; gender inequality

DOI: https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.28.4631

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