The Impact of Learning on Women's Labour Market Transitions

TitleThe Impact of Learning on Women's Labour Market Transitions
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsHaasler, Simone R.
JournalResearch in Comparative and International Education
Pagination354 - 369
Date Published2014///
Keywordsdiscrimination, gender, gender bias

Women play an increasingly important role in the labor market and as wage earners. Moreover, in many countries, young women have outperformed men in terms of educational attainment and qualification. Still, women's human capital investment does not pay off as it does for men as they are still significantly disadvantaged on the labor market. Based on a qualitative empirical investigation with women in their mid-career, this article investigates the role of learning for women's labor market participation and career paths. Women's careers complexly intersect with role expectations, family needs, the career of the partner and anticipation of low returns of educational investment. This is typically reflected in discontinuous employment, part-time work and women's secondary wage earner position in the family. Furthermore, women qualified at the intermediate skills level are more likely to move horizontally in their career than vertically. Horizontal mobility thereby requires significant engagement with learning as the German labor market usually requires a formal qualification to realise a career change. Learning and further training thus become instrumental to facilitate and support women's career transitions, which are often aimed at re-entering regular employment after longer periods of family-related interruptions and/or to remain qualified in jobs in the social, health and educational fields, all of which are female dominated. Ultimately, women's significant engagement with continuing learning is not primarily expected to support career advancement and vertical mobility, particularly as it can neither alter discontinuities of employment nor the German-specific nexus between welfare, family and education policies and the labor market. This challenges the lifelong learning rhetoric insofar as one key aim of lifelong learning policies is to support labor market inclusion and the mobility of disadvantaged groups.