Do job aspirations cause job choice? Insights from women entering male-dominated occupational training in India

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jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:secjats:titleMotivation</jats:title>jats:pThe participation rate of women in India's labour force is not only one of the lowest in the world, it has also been declining. To increase women's employment, some observers argue for reducing occupational gender segregation so that more women enter non‐traditional jobs.</jats:p></jats:sec>jats:secjats:titlePurpose</jats:title>jats:pI ask how aspirations for non‐traditional jobs are formed among young women in Delhi. The aim was to enable policy‐makers to foster occupational aspirations for non‐traditional jobs so women could enter jobs considered to be men's work, reducing gender segregation and increasing women's participation in the labour market.</jats:p></jats:sec>jats:secjats:titleMethods and approach</jats:title>jats:pI interviewed 72 young women from low‐income households in Delhi, following a semi‐structured guide. These young women were training either in jobs seen as the preserve of men—taxi drivers, electricians, and electronics mechanics—or in traditionally female work in beauty salons.</jats:p></jats:sec>jats:secjats:titleFindings</jats:title>jats:pContrary to conventional wisdom, young women's entry into non‐traditional training in Delhi was not a result of their occupational aspirations. Rather, entry into training saw them aspire to the jobs for which they trained.</jats:p></jats:sec>jats:secjats:titlePolicy implications</jats:title>jats:pTo increase women's entry into jobs dominated by men, policy‐makers do not need to influence young women's occupational aspirations. Instead, they should focus on factors that directly affect job entry—for example, having training centres close to where these young women live—and provide opportunities for young women to train.</jats:p>jats:pTraditional concepts of occupational aspirations, generally derived from the global North, do not apply in the same way to young women in India. My study raises questions about these conceptions of aspirations and prompts future studies to assess whether they apply in other parts of the global South.</jats:p></jats:sec>


Publication status: Published

Funder: Cambridge Political Economy Society Trust; doi:

Funder: Cambridge Trust; doi:

Funder: Rajiv Gandhi Foundation; doi:

4405 Gender Studies, 4410 Sociology, 44 Human Society, Clinical Research, Reproductive health and childbirth, 5 Gender Equality, 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth
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Development Policy Review
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