Written by Joanna Hughes

Many prospective workers are choosing certification programs over college in the hopes of developing the specialized skills necessary to compete in today’s job market without paying exorbitant tuition costs. However, a new report from policy research group New America’s Center on Education and Skills indicates the payoffs might not be the same for men and women.

Here’s a closer look at the findings, as reported by Voice of America.

Data collected by the US Department of Education reveals 27 percent of adults in the US hold at least one non-degree credential. People in this group are also likely to make more money and have jobs than their counterparts without non-degree credentials.

However, researchers from New America determined that while women and men are earning these credentials at the same rate, women come out behind in multiple measures, including how much money they are making and rate of employment.

Specifically, while 46 percent of women with credentials but no four-year degree made less than $30,000 a year, the same could be said for just 25 percent of men. At the same time, while just five percent of women with only non-degree credentials earned more than $75,000 a year, 17 percent of men with equivalent credentials earned that much.

According to leading policy expert Lul Tesfai, these discrepancies are due at least in part to existing gender divisions in some certain industries which are either male- or female-dominated. For example, while men dominate in fields like engineering and computer security which offer higher earnings, women are more dominant in office support jobs.

Tesfai attributes the fact that women enter these fields to societal influences. “It’s no coincidence that some of the female-dominated occupations are care occupations like healthcare and education,” Tesfai told Voice of America. At the same time, the cultures found in certain industries, such as construction, may be unwelcoming toward women.

The implications are significant, in either case. National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity's chief executive officer Ben Williams said, “A lot of these jobs that we’re talking about lead to family-sustaining wages. And so if women are not accessing those occupations that lead to family-sustaining wages, it not only affects them…it affects their family.”


Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.
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