• Odd Woman Out: Women in Non-Traditional Post-Secondary Career and Technical Education

      Pellom, Renee Denise; Tift College of Education
      The approval of legislation in the United States granting women equal entry into non-traditional career and technical education (CTE) occupational fields has not guaranteed their equitable inclusion into non-traditional occupations. In general, government, education, and industry leaders have not been successful in their attempts to adequately recruit, retain, and provide necessary supports for females to enroll in and remain in non-traditional post-secondary CTE careers. The purpose of this study is to describe the lived experiences of current and post-graduate women in post-secondary non-traditional CTE. This description of their experiences of navigating a predominantly male environment is considered through the lens of autonomy, competence, and relatedness in self-determination theory. The researcher utilized a qualitative phenomenological line of inquiry to describe and understand the under-told experiences of the participants. A purposeful sampling strategy was used to recruit 11 adult women (18 years or older) who were current students or recent graduates from a non-traditional CTE program in the last 18 months. Participants who were graduates were required to be currently employed in their field of study. The researcher engaged in semi-structured one-on-one interviews and utilized strategies to address data credibility that included transferability of the data by way of a thick, rich description, triangulation, engagement in reflexivity, verification through an audit trail, and utilization of external auditors. Results of the research show that participants were highly motivated, self-determined individuals who actively engaged in multi-dimensional behaviors that expressed a marked sense of autonomy, competence, and relatedness throughout their academic, professional, and personal lives. The women utilized diverse forms of strategy and dynamic engagement to aid them in navigating relationships with individuals at their schools, on their jobs, and among family members and friends. Most women identified physical or interpersonal challenges at school or work because of their gender. They also reported ultimately forming positive relationships with many of the men around them, but several women continued to lack needed physical and social supports. Recommendations for future research include utilizing participant observations, and conducting additional qualitative and quantitative studies with women from diverse non-traditional post-secondary CTE careers and institutions.