If this is true, much re-thinking needs to be done. Accepted training methods, for example, may have to be modified to suit the needs of both sexes. This is why we place emphasis on group learning at Dixon Hall and have opposed "continuous intake" from the start. An individualized learning plan may be useful in some circumstances, but if there is a choice and your class is all female, self-directed learning should be combined with peer support, group projects, collective discussion, etc.
The need for individual and group counseling for women students is another issue. Women students often approach learning from a holistic stance. If a woman learns how to operate a computer, it will affect her self-esteem, her relations with her family, and hopefully her economic status. How the woman copes with these changes is part of the "learning" process and just as important as acquiring the actual skill. Space and time must be allocated in the educational structure to meet these needs since personal relationships and change affect women deeply.
A third issue to be cognizant of is the relationship between a male leader/teacher and female followers/students. An interesting study of male and female leaders in small work groups found that "satisfaction with task structure was significantly less in male-led groups with mixed followers than in male-led groups with male followers" (Bartol, 1973, p 113). The women participants preferred female-led mixed groups. The study suggests it could be due to the fact that female leaders encouraged female followers to participate while the men may have discouraged women. This issue simply points to the fact that a lot more research into gender dynamics in educational and work settings is needed.
Five years ago, there were few precedents for women's training in a community setting. Since then, local projects have flourished despite initial skepticism on the part of the provincial and federal governments. The CEIC has even gone so far recently as to suggest Dixon Hall expand throughout the province and initiate "ten more Dixon Halls." The same suggestion has been made to other organizations involved in women's training.
The tone is now collaborative. Key decision-makers appear committed to the concept of community-based training for special needs clients.
While the federal government is moving increasingly towards direct private purchase of training from a host of non-institutional agencies, the province is less than enthusiastic. The Ministry of Colleges & Universities, in the past, preferred all training to be delivered through established, institutional channels.
George Brown College appears to be somewhat atypical in its willingness to cosponsor such projects. The President of the College. Mr. Doug Light, recently referred to the College as a "broker" in the education and training business which captures precisely the role played in relation to Dixon Hall.
The College is a broker in negotiations between the CEIC and Dixon Hall. It is the official channel through which funds flow. Academic accountability is maintained. And certificates issued. But we hire our own staff, administer our own budget, recruit our own students and develop our own curriculum, subject to College approval. The College has not vetoed a recommendation to date.
Provided the College allows for the autonomous functioning of such programs. this arrangement is advantageous to all parties concerned. It is perhaps an excellent example of a large' bureaucratic system incorporating an innovative sub-unit.
If more institutions like George Brown College were to define their role as "training brokers" in addition to "on-site trainers." the result might be an enriched adult learning network. This entails giving up some power, however. which not all bureaucracies are willing to do.
Community-based skills-training represents an excellent learning option for disadvantaged women. but it does not contradict the need for larger institutions. Isolated training projects have their own weaknesses due to their small size.