Gender Equity in Access, Services and Benefits from Vocational Rehabilitation
Statistics for the 1980s continue to show that women and men are still employed largely in traditional occupational groups and that women fair economically less well in the work force than do men, regardless of their education or whether or not they are disabled. Women represent more than 53 percent of the United States population and 39 percent of fulltime workers (U.S. Department of Labor, 1983). Since the 1970s, women have increased their participation in nearly every job category listed in the national census of occupations (U.S. Department of Labor, 1983), but the greatest number of women continue to be employed in clerical, teaching, retail sales and service jobs and the greatest number of men continue to find employment in skilled craft, operative, and management jobs. In general, the jobs into which 80 percent of women are employed are lower-paying and provide fewer benefits, provide little opportunity for advancement, are less likely to lead to careers through which significant economic independence could be achieved, and are occupations in which the risk of displacement has increased due to technological advances. With earnings at 64% of those of men (Spain, 1985), women's incomes are more often at or below poverty-level and it has been estimated that by the year 2000 women and children will make up the population in poverty (Coalition on Women and the Budget, 1984).
According to the 1982 March Current Population Survey (Asch, 1984), 13.1 million, or 8.9 percent of working aged Americans, were classified as having a work disability. Of the 8.9 percent of working age women who report a work-related disability, 80 percent are not part of the work force (U.S. Department of Commerce, 1983, 1987; Bowe, 1984) and only 7.4 percent are working full-time, year-round (Asch, 1984). When employed, the average white women with a disability earns approximately 10 percent of that earned by white men with no disability (Levitan and Taggart, 1977; Bowe, 1984). compared to women with no reported disability, women with a disability tend to be somewhat older (six of every 10 women of working age who have a work disability are 45 years of age or older), have less education (1 in 6, as opposed to 1 in 28, have less than eight years of formal education), and are more frequently divorced or separayed (Bowe, 1984).
Nationally, women represent less than one-third of the caseloads of vocational rehabilitation programs and, while they are more likely to be closed from the system as "successfully rehabilitated," their reported earnings at closure are 56 percent of those achieved by men at closure (Carrick & Bibb, 1982; Danek & Lawrence, 1985; Goldberg, Bernard, & Granger, 1980). Though successful closures from vocational rehabilitation are generally higher for women than men, Goldberg, Bernard, and Granger found that these higher rates were a function of the types of allowable closures used with men and women: Women were more likely to enter part-time work or return to "homemaker" status, while...