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Issue Gender and key qualifications
Outline The project GENDERQUAL looks into gendered features of key qualifications and ways of improving employment opportunities for both sexes. The following points are made [BNi]:
The specific contribution of the project to research on HRD is related to the gender issue and the topic of career choice. As a general trend, there is a gendered segregation in the labour market which goes together with inequality. Equal opportunity employment strategies will have to be redefined, and respective qualification and promotion programmes should be proof-read with regard to their effect on both men and women.
The leading hypothesis of the project starts out from the fact that in all European member states the labour markets show gender segregated structures which are reflected in vocational education and training. Consequently it is assumed that these structures contribute to the development of gender specific features of key qualifications. By identifying these features the project could help develop strategies to reduce gendered options of career choice. It is intended to identify good practice which works against gendered structures.
Debate [MM:] Is there more diversity or more convergence in gender issues of vocational education, competences and career choice in Europe? [BNi/ KE:] At this point of investigation it is difficult to draw ultimate conclusions; however evidence suggests that there is diversity in the extent of how rigid these gender issues are.
[JiS:] What is meant by 'key qualifications'? [GH:] They can be defined in a negative sense: key qualifications or key competences are those abilities which are not directly connected to the material aspect or subject matter of a specific occupation. [BNi:] 'Key qualifications' need to be contextualised, according to the meaning of those competences in each country. [JiS:] They are similar to the notion of 'core skills' in the UK. [MD:] In France we prefer to use the term 'transversal competences'. 
[JO:] Where does the organisational dimension (HRD aspect) of the gender issue come in? [KE:] There are findings in our research about the ways in which competences are ascribed to different genders; this is crucial in terms of selection and expectations. [AH:] We are looking at work sites in different companies; competences are being constructed according to organisational settings of work; in interviews the workers are commenting about competences in organisations. [MM:] Perspective of business administration: many big organisations want to be equal opportunity employers; in their human resources policies they focus on the distribution of their employees; gender is an important issue in selection and promotion, for instance placing enough people/ women in managerial positions. [JiS:] This also relates to the selection for HRD within management. [GH:] This is meant by the reference to 'improving options for career choice and enhancing human resource potential' in the project title.
Reference Interim results of the project GENDERQUAL have been presented in the paper on 'gender and qualification' (Kampmeier 2001) with particular reference to the German case.
Event ECER/ VETNET: Lille Sept 01: Roundtable 'HRD in Europe'
Descriptors D-CDO            
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Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO