Gender construction in VET apprenticeships: How does drop out of training inform us?

Although schools have established a certain number of gender norms (actual and hidden curriculum), stepping out into the world of work reinforces these norms and forges other specifications (related to professional norms). The difference in the paths taken through the labour market are therefore not a mere reflection of the earlier differences established by school education.

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From this perspective, VET apprenticeships are a favourable place from which to observe this transmission of norms since it combines the transmission of theoretical and practical knowledge. Moreover, as VET apprenticeship training takes place within a genuine productive framework, we find ourselves in an environment where professional segregation and division of labour manifest itself on the basis of gender. This new context is entirely different from what students were familiar with in compulsory education.

This thesis analyses the notions of gender in vocational training as they emerge from accounts of young people who dropped out of their apprenticeship. Emphasis is therefore placed on what is learned simultaneously when undertaking an apprenticeship relating to a particular trade in terms of norms regarding what it means to be male or female. Therefore, if boys and girls are identically affected by the phenomenon of dropping out of training, the way in which dropping out is expressed, the situations which have led people to terminate their training and the professional realities from which these originate, are characterised by gender-based professional segregation and division of labour. Moreover, analysis of the particular status of apprentices reveals that by being assigned certain tasks, apprentices learn to divide labour according to gender and gain an understanding of the significance of gender in social interactions. These are multiple elements that these young adults will implement in their own lives, whether it be in the workplace or in other parts of society.


Supervisors of the dissertation:

  • Prof. Dr. Patricia Roux (University of Lausanne)
  • Prof. Dr. Nicky Le Feuvre (University of Lausanne)
  • Prof. Dr. Pascale Molinier (University of Paris XIV)
  • Prof. Dr. Gilles Moreau (University of Poitiers)