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Girls can do it


Girls can do it – supporting non-traditional career choices of women in vocational education.

In collaboration with regional partners (Gender Studies – Czech Republic, KARAT Coalition – Poland, Budapest Institute – Hungary, EsFem takes part in a project that aims to raise awareness on the labor market situation of women in the Visegrad countries.

We prepared a brief study in which we examined the impact of horizontal segregation in secondary vocational education on women’s employment opportunities in Slovakia, and we discussed the results at a workshop with stakeholders.

All project partners prepared an analysis for their country, the results of these will be used to prepare a comparative study that will be disseminated in the region.


Executive summary – Slovakia

Monika Bosá, Katarína Minarovičová (EsFem)

Structure of the system

At grammar schools, secondary vocational schools and conservatories was in 2016 the total number of students 215 201 of which girls represent 49.62% (106 773). The number of female students is higher at grammar schools, which is 58% of the total number of students 71 575 and at the conservatories (62% of girls out of 2 977 students). On the other hand, at the secondary vocational schools the girls represent 45% of the total 138 360 students.

Vocational education in Slovakia (VET) is offered by secondary vocational schools, an umbrella term covering a diversity of secondary VET schools that specialize in different fields of study ranging from traditional industrial fields and crafts to economics and management fields. Three main levels of study are offered in the VET system: ISCED 2C (lower secondary vocational education), ISCED 3C (3-4 years) and ISCED 3A (upper secondary vocational education; 4-5 years).

In the Slovak Republic, there are over 400 VET schools, most of which are public with around one quarter being in private or church management. Currently, there are over 1 400 occupational profiles in the Slovak VET system organised into 25 main fields of study. The largest sectors in 2015/2016 in terms of the number of graduates were economics and organization, retail and services (38%) followed by electrical engineering (12%).

Gender segregation of secondary vocational schools

Girls and boys are choosing different types of secondary vocational schools in Slovakia. Of the total number of girls in secondary vocational schools (64 787) most studied at schools focused on the economics and organization, retail and services (53%), health study (11%), arts and crafts (9%), and teaching studies (7 %). The lowest number of girls study in the fields of metallurgy, mining, geology and geotechnics (less than 0.01%).

Of the total number of boys in secondary vocational schools (78 453) most studied electrical engineering (22%), engineering (17%), construction (11%). The lowest number of boys study in the fields of legal science, economics, processing of leather, technical chemistry and mining (less than 0.04%).

Gender segregation and labour market

The labour market in Slovakia is dual labour market. There is horizontal and vertical gender segregation. Gender segregation has a negative effect on the functioning of the labour market – women generally occupy lower positions which are also paid less; feminized professions and industries are among the jobs with the lowest wages, and also lower social valuation.

Horizontal segregation of the labour market is reflected primarily by major classes of employment. The predominance of men is typical of a group of craft and related trade workers, and plant and machine operators and assemblers. Men also dominate among managers, technicians and associate professionals, which all account for about three quarters of men-workers. The predominance of women is typical for service and sale workers, administrative professions.

Women and men are employed in various sectors of economic activity in a way which shows significant differences and segregationist tendencies.

Women greatly predominate especially in the healthcare and social assistance (82.2% women) and also in the education sector (78.9% women). Women represent more than half of the total number of employed in these sectors: financial intermediation (64%), hotels and restaurants (63%) and trade (57%). In recent years, women started to represent more than half in these sectors as well: other public services (54.9%), public administration and defence (50.6%).

The sectors with a predominance of men are building industry (94.6%), mining and quarrying (94.5%), agriculture and forestry (76.5%) and transport, storage, post and telecommunications (74.6%). Sectors, which are predominated by men require technical type of education.

Most of the sectors where women predominate has lower wages than the Slovak average (less than 997 EUR).

Vertical gender segregation of the Slovak labour market manifests itself in a different distribution of male and female workforce within individual jobs – by occupations with different status and management competencies. In the top tier of employment – managers – women represent only 30.9%. The jobs where women predominate are: operational staff and workers in services and trade (70.1% women), clerical jobs (67.9% women).