Understanding the career choices of grade 12 female learners studying technical subjects.
Technology related subjects and careers have historically been dominated by boys and men and these careers are highly valued and well remunerated. The objective of this study was to examine the career choices of grade 12 female learners studying technical subjects. This necessitates understanding of and taking into account, the intricacies of growing up as girls and women within the South African socio-structural and historical context. The study was located at a technical school in KwaZulu Natal and employed mixed methods within an interpretive research paradigm. The sample comprised twenty four grade twelve female learners who completed the questionnaire that explored reasons for selection of technical subjects in school and their subsequent projected career choices. On the basis of their responses on the questionnaire 7 female learners who indicated projected choices of non-technical careers were selected for participation in semi-structured interviews that explored reasons for this. This study draws on social constructivism as a theoretical approach that guided its design, methods and analysis of data. The data from the questionnaire and interviews were interrogated in response to the three critical questions addressed in this study, namely: Why do grade 12 female learners choose technical subjects? What are the projected career choices of grade 12 female learners studying technical subjects? Why do grade 12 female learners studying technical subjects intend choosing non-technical careers? The main findings suggest that there are multiple social and institutional forces that shape female learners choices and experiences in a traditionally male dominated field of study and work. The data from this study suggest that interventions should not view young women in isolation but in continual relation with the female learners’ background. Both are a source for female learners’ challenges and opportunities. There is a need to acknowledge the fluidity of gender constructions by accepting that they are not static constructions but rather dynamic interactions.
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