When it comes to direction, Audrey Seitz has plenty to spare. It’s even in her job title. A graduate student at UW-Milwaukee’s new School of Public Health, she also works part time at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin as a “community health navigator,” directing the uninsured to health and social services.
Her own path has been varied but sure, winding through a semester in Malta as a refugee aid worker and veering slightly when she was diagnosed with CVID, or common variable immune deficiency, a genetic immune disorder. But she’s receiving monthly injections of antibodies and hopes to graduate next year, settle into her position at Children’s Hospital and put down roots in Milwaukee. Whether she does or not, her job prospects look good. The state Department of Revenue projects that private-sector jobs in health and education will grow 7 percent by 2015.
Other women living in Wisconsin face greater uncertainty. Among the sectors of the state economy that employ a majority of women, most are expected to grow at an anemic rate. The greatest gains will come in sectors that employ mostly men, such as manufacturing and construction, according to the DOR’s predictions. If current gender patterns measured by the U.S. Census in 2011 continue, about 57 percent of new jobs created by 2015 will be held by men.
In Wisconsin, the recession first hammered men as manufacturing and construction employment shrank, says Laura Dresser, associate director at the Center on Wisconsin Strategy. Then, as state aid to schools and local governments shrank under Gov. Scott Walker’s first two-year budget, it was women’s turn. They make up 65 percent of metro Milwaukee’s education employees, according to Census figures. A Department of Workforce Development report, meanwhile, counts women as 76 percent of the area’s “administrative support” workers – a major chunk of declining public payrolls.