In our previous piece in this series, we looked at the relative absence of women from environmental restoration sectors like transportation and engineering. You might have come away wondering why the gender ratios are so skewed in fields such as construction, where there are approximately 32 male Louisianans working for every one female.
As in other parts of the country, the disparities in Louisiana’s labor profile were historically rooted in low levels of educational access for women and traditional social norms about female employment. In a 2004 report, Dr. Beth Willinger, who then served as the Executive Director of the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women at Tulane University, noted that:
“The fact that fewer Louisiana women attain a high school education than women nationally has consequences for employment and earnings. While men with a high school education can obtain relatively high-paying jobs with fringe benefits, for example in construction and transportation; women with a high school education tend to obtain jobs in the service industry, or as sales clerks and receptionists that pay the minimum wage, offer little security and few health or retirement benefits.”