Gendered Job Training: The Explanatory Potential of a Feminist-Marxist Theory of the State presented at the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences (CFHSS) Conference in Vancouver, BC, May 31-June 8, 2008
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In the late 20th century, job training funded by the Government of Canada through its Employment Insurance Economic Benefits was found to be gendered (Critoph, 2003). The term ‘gendered job training’ is used in the context of this analysis much as feminists and other analysts have used the term ‘gendered labour market’ to refer to the differential way that women experience the labour market. Women experience the labour market differently from men in a number of ways: the labour market is both vertically and horizontally segregated, meaning that women end up in occupations that pay less and require less skill than men, and in clusters of occupations, largely focussed in a variety of service capacities. Women also experience the balance between unpaid and paid work differently than men, carrying a far higher portion of the unpaid care and household work. Women also experience ‘gendered job training’. They participate in much higher numbers in the pursuit of clerical skills, in training for various care occupations (e.g., nursing, home care, child care), and in the people-oriented apprenticeable trades (e.g., hair stylist, and food services), usually at the low end of the wage scale. This paper will examine the explanatory potential of a Feminist-Marxist theory of the state in considering why and how this occurs. In particular, it will seek to answer three key questions: • Can a Marxist-Feminist theory of the state explain the gendered nature of publicly funded job training? • What would be the relationship between capitalists, patriarchy, and the state in such a theory? • What impact does the larger neo-liberal ideological context have on the state and on ‘gendered job training’?