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How do women in male-dominated apprenticeships fare in the labour market

Increasing women’s participation in male-dominated trades has been identified as a means of improving the supply of skilled tradespersons in Canada, creating a more diverse workforce, and increasing women’s wages. However, little information exists about women’s decision to enter male-dominated apprenticeship programs and their subsequent labour market outcomes. This study addresses both information gaps by examining the characteristics associated with women selecting male-dominated apprenticeship programs and their labour market outcomes relative to men who selected the same types of programs. A range of outcomes are examined, including employment status, self-employment, obtaining a job related to the trade of study, hours worked per week, union membership, a series of job benefits (such as extended health care, sick leave, and retirement plan benefits) and hourly wages. Results indicate that women who were Canadian-born, who were older, or who had a father with a trades certificate were more likely than other female apprentices to choose a male-dominated program. Women who studied in male-dominated apprenticeship programs generally had poorer labour market outcomes than their male counterparts. Among apprentices who selected male-dominated programs, women were as likely as men to receive sick leave benefits in their jobs but received lower median hourly wages than men. Fewer gender differences were found among apprentices who selected female-dominated or mixed (neither male- nor female-dominated) programs. However, while the median wages of women who studied in female-dominated or mixed apprenticeship programs did not differ significantly from those of their male counterparts, these women did earn less than men at the higher end of the wage distribution (75th percentile).