Mastracci, S.H. (2005). Persistent Problems Demand Consistent Solutions: Evaluating Policies to Mitigate Occupational Segregation by Gender. Review of Radical Political Economics, 37(1), 23-38.
- The study’s objective was to determine the effect of two competitive grants that funded activities to support women in nontraditional occupations on women’s probability of employment in those occupations. Nontraditional occupations are those in which women represent fewer than one-quarter of all employed people in the occupation (for example, dentists or construction workers).
- The author estimated the grants’ impact on female employment in nontraditional occupations through a differences-in-differences model using Current Population Survey Merged Outgoing Rotation Groups data from 1990 to 1999.
- The study found that the grants were associated with increases in women’s chances of obtaining employment in a nontraditional occupation.
- The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the author did not control or account for pretreatment trends in the outcome variables of interest. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the grants; other factors are likely to have contributed.
The NEW and WANTO Grant Programs
Features of the Intervention
Passed in 1991, the Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW) Act offered states competitive, short-term grants to implement programs that prepare and recruit women for employment in nontraditional occupations. By 1997, 18 states had received funding under NEW, although only 3 states maintained their programs into the 2000s.
In 1992, the Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations (WANTO) Act extended this mission by providing funds to community, union, or employer organizations that offered technical assistance to employers and labor unions to assist them in training, recruiting, and retaining women in nontraditional occupations. More than 50 organizations received funding from WANTO from 1994 to 2001.
Features of the Study
The author considered a treated area a region in which a NEW or WANTO grant had been awarded and a comparison area a region in which no such grant had been awarded. One model estimated the impact of the grants on the probability of women’s employment in nontraditional occupations among women alone, with a sample of 185,171 women in treated areas and 370,018 in comparison areas. The author used a difference-in-differences model, comparing the change over time in the probability of employment in a nontraditional occupation for women in treated areas to the change over time for women in comparison areas.
A second model used a triple-difference strategy, differencing the difference-in-differences estimates for men and women (as described previously) to estimate the impact of the programs. The analysis included 382,330 women and men in treated areas and 749,843 women and men in comparison areas.
- The study found that the grants were associated with statistically significant increases in the probability of women’s employment in nontraditional occupations. Using the difference-in-differences model, NEW or WANTO grants were associated with a 5 percent increase in the probability of employment in a nontraditional occupation.
- Using the triple difference model, NEW or WANTO grants were associated with a 15 percent increase in the probability of employment in a nontraditional occupation.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
Although the study controlled for many demographic characteristics of interest, such as race, marital status, and education, there was no evidence that treated and comparison areas experienced similar trends in women’s employment in nontraditional occupations before the award of the NEW and WANTO grants. Likewise, there is no evidence that the difference between women’s and men’s employment in nontraditional occupations changed similarly in treated and comparison areas before award of the grants. Therefore, the results might reflect existing trends in the outcome rather than the effects of the grants.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the author did not control for pretreatment trends in the outcome variables of interest. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the grants; other factors are likely to have contributed.