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Education & Training

About Education & Training

Education is the gateway to opportunity, with well-educated, well-trained workers needed to fill most positions in the current economy. The best path to a job that pays a living wage capable of sustaining a family is through postsecondary education.

Given the existing gender wage gap, educational attainment is especially crucial for women, as women need more education to reach the same average income levels as men. There are also gaps in education along race lines:  30% of white women—compared to 19.4% of African American women and 13.7% of Hispanic women—hold Bachelor’s degrees (American Council on Education, 2011).

Recognizing the necessity of higher education in increasing women’s earning power, IWPR’s Student Parent Success Initiative (SPSI) seeks to improve access and graduation for low-income student parents—particularly mothers—in college settings. Specifically, through a combination of research and outreach activities that aim to encourage information-sharing, educate leaders and policy makers, and improve public policies and resources, SPSI works to raise awareness about both the challenges and promise represented by parents seeking postsecondary degrees.

Job training can provide an entry into family-sustaining jobs and careers, yet many adults face economic, scheduling, and other challenges that make it difficult for them to enroll and succeed in job training programs. Socioeconomic supports, or wraparound services, such as child care assistance, access to public benefits, and transportation or housing assistance, can help adults—especially those with caregiving responsibilities—to complete job training programs that will ultimately improve their economic standing. Little is currently known, however, about how many job training programs offer supports of different types and which supports best meet the needs of low-income women, who typically have more caregiving responsibilities and higher poverty rates than comparable men.


Student Parent Success Initiative

Job Training and Socioeconomic Supports

Report: Increasing Opportunities for Low-Income Women and Student Parents in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math at Community Colleges

Women’s Education and Economic Opportunity: The Role of Literacy, IWPR event co-hosted with the National Coalition for Literacy

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Postsecondary Success Initiative

Also visit our external resources page for more information on this topic.

To see our experts on this and other initiatives, click here.

Latest Reports from IWPR

Community College Partnerships for Student and Career Success: Program Profile of Carreras en Salud
by Jane Henrici, Ph.D. (June 2012)

Postsecondary students with children often need an array of supports to succeed in their studies, which can require significant coordination among new and existing services (Conway, Blair, and Helmer 2012; Henrici n.d.; Miller, Gault, and Thorman 2011). Such supports might include financial aid, academic and career counseling, job placement assistance, transportation, housing, child care, and classes in English-as-a-Second Language. To more effectively provide an expanded range of student resources, community colleges often partner with local nonprofits, private businesses and foundations, and government institutions (Altstadt 2011; Bragg et al. 2007; Bray, Painter, and Rosen 2011; Conway, Blair, and Helmer 2012; Leutz 2007; Singh 2007; Wilson 2010). This fact sheet describes Carreras en Salud (“Careers in Health”), a career pathway program that scholars and advocates have elevated as a promising model for providing comprehensive supports through multiple partnerships with city colleges in Chicago.

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Community College Partnerships for Student and Career Success: Program Profile of Carreras en Salud
by Jane Henrici, Ph. D. (June 2012)


Gender Segregation in Fields of Study at Community Colleges and Implications for Future Earnings
by Layla Moughari, Rhiana Gunn-Wright, and Barbara Gault, Ph.D. (May 2012)

Postsecondary education yields myriad benefits, including increased earnings potential, higher lifetime wages, and access to quality jobs. But postsecondary degrees are not all equalin the benefits they bring to students and women tend to obtain degrees in fields with lower earnings. Women with associate degrees earn approximately 75 percent of what men with associate degrees earn (U.S. Department of Commerce and the Executive Office of the President, 2011). This wage gap occurs in part because women with AA degrees—like women at all degree levels—often work in lower-paid, female-dominated occupations (Hegewisch, et al. 2010).

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Housing Resources and Programs for Single Student Parents at Community and Technical Colleges
by Abby Thorman, Ph.D, Jessica Otto, and Rhiana Gunn-Wright (April 2012)

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Gender Segregation in Fields of Study at Community Colleges and Implications for Future Earnings
by Layla Moughari, Rhiana Gunn-Wright, and Barbara Gault, Ph. D (April 2012)


Tools for Student Parent Success: Varieties of Campus Child Care
by Todd Boressoff (March 2012)

This toolkit is the first in a series by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). It introduces the wide variety of child care services that exist at institutions of higher learning. Rather than an exhaustive study of campus child care programs, it is an introduction to possible options. It is for those seeking to provide quality child care at colleges or universities and for those considering how to expand or rethink existing services.

#C393, Toolkit, 19 pages

Increasing Opportunities for Low-Income Women and Student Parents in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math at Community Colleges
by Cynthia B. Costello, Ph.D (March 2012)

Drawing on a literature and program review, analysis of publicly available data, and consultations with experts in the field, this report examines opportunities for women and student parents to pursue and succeed in STEM fields at community colleges.

#C388, Report, 81 pages

Low Literacy Means Lower Earnings, Especially for Women
by Jennifer Herard, Kevin Miller, Ph.D., Jane Henrici, Ph.D., and Barbara Gault, Ph.D. (February 2012)

Appropriate literacy levels are crucial for both men and women seeking education and employment opportunities, but low literacy skills disproportionally hurt women’s chances of earning a sustaining wage.


Implications for Low-Income Student Parents of House Bill H.R. 1, Proposed Continuing Resolution for FY 2011 Appropriations
by Tiffany Boiman (March 2011)

With the ongoing debate in Congress over how to fund the remainder of the 2011 Fiscal Year, considerable uncertainty exists surrounding the funding picture for many federal programs going forward. This is no less true for the diverse roster of student financial aid, child care, and other education and training programs and initiatives that support low-income student parents as they strive to enter and complete postsecondary programs.


Improving Child Care Access to Promote Postsecondary Success Among Low-Income Parents
by Kevin Miller, Ph.D., Barbara Gault, Ph.D., and Abby Thorman, Ph.D. (March 2011)

This report examines the role of child care as a crucial support for parents who pursue postsecondary education.

#C378, Report, 54 pages

Student Parents Face Significant Challenges to Postsecondary Success
by Kevin Miller, Ph.D. (November 2010)


Child Care at College Campuses: a Critical Resource for Student Parents
by Kevin Miller, Ph.D. (October 2010)

Testimony of Kevin Miller, Ph.D.,Institute for Women’s Policy Research, before the Committee on Higher Education of the New York City Council


Child Care Support for Student Parents in Community College Is Crucial for Success, but Supply and Funding Are Inadequate
by Kevin Miller, PhD (May 2010)

Of the over 6 million students earning college credit at community colleges, 1.7 million (27 percent) are parents.1 Of those, about 1 million (16 percent) are single parents, more than twice the proportion at 4-year institutions. Three-quarters of single parents in college are women.2

#C375, 3 pages

Pedagogical Methods for Improving Women’s Participation and Success in Engineering Education
by Lynette Osborne, Ph.D., Kevin Miller, Ph.D., and Robin Farabee-Siers (October 2008)

The field of engineering has been slow to open to women. While women received 55 percent of social science Bachelor’s degrees and 62 percent of biological science Bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2003, only 20 percent of engineering Bachelor’s degrees were awarded to women. The same year, women made up 43 percent of the workforce among social scientists and 43 percent among biological scientists but made up only 11 percent of the engineering workforce (National Science Foundation, 2007).

#C367, 20 pages

Resilient and Reaching for More: Challenges and Benefits of Higher Education for Welfare Participants and Their Children
by Avis A. Jones-DeWeever, PhD and Barbara Gault, PhD (February 2008)


Education and Job Training Build Strong Families
by Deanna Lyter (March 2002)

More than 11.5 million children live in poverty (US DOC 2001a) and likely will experience first-hand what research tells us – that poverty has long-lasting negative effects (McLeod and Shanahan 1996; McLoyd 1998; Reynolds and Ross 1998; Vandivere et al. 2000). Growing up in poverty, particularly if it is persistent:

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