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Jane Gaskell.
Toronto, ON: OISE Press, 1992.
168pp., paper, $24.50.
ISBN 0-7744-0383-7. CIP.

Subject Headings:
Sex role.
Sex differences in education.
Sex role in the work environment.


Reviewed by Esther Hutchison.

Volume 20 Number 4
1992 September

A series of essays on the transition from school to work, this book is the result of two linked studies. The first, in 1977, studied working-class students who were planning to take up employment rather than further education. Students were interviewed in their graduating year and again a year later. The second project took place from 1983 to 1987 and targeted clerical training as an example of a vocational choice favoured by young working-class women.

Jane Gaskell was interested in the attitudes of the students and how they were shaped by their educational experiences and their perceptions of the world of work. She considers how what have been considered individual choices are influenced and directed by institutions and circumstances. Included are many direct quotations, which are exceptionally revealing to those of us who hope that feminism has influenced the next generation. Many of the girls expressed traditional ambitions for home and family, or fatalistically expected that their husbands would be the bread-winners, "because men make more money." Most of the young men were blatantly interested in having wives who would deal with all the domestic stuff so that they wouldn't have to be bothered: "Who wouldn't want a wife?"

The essay titles illustrate the scope of the studies. "School Work and Gender," "Course Streaming in the School," "Making the Transition from School to Work," "Reproducing Family Patterns," "Inside the Business Education Classroom," "Constructing Skill Hierarchies," "Directions for Policy and Research."

Dr. Jane Gaskell is a professor in the Department of Social and Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia and has published two previous books on women and education. Her analysis in this work is interesting and thought provoking.

The book is well indexed by name as well as by subject, and features an extensive bibliography. The print and layout are clear. Unfortunately, the scholarly style is likely to limit the audience. For those willing to persevere, this work should expand their understanding of the educational and vocational choices made by young people and how they are influenced by prevailing institutions. For the rest, we can only hope that this provides the basis for further discussion on a more popular level.

Recommended for professional development collections.

Esther Hutchison works at Spruce Grove Public Library in Spruce Grove, Alberta.
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