Gender disparities in wages are still fairly large. On average, women earn less than men from the beginning of their careers. This article investigates whether young men and women with vocational education and training receive different returns for occupation-specific and general skills, a topic that has hitherto received little attention. Theoretically, we draw on a culturalist approach as well as on the varieties of capitalism approach. The analyses are based on a combination of detailed occupation-level data on the specificity of training occupations and individual-level data from the Swiss Labour Force Survey on the incomes of upper-secondary vocational diploma holders. The results of multilevel regression models show that men and women’s incomes are affected by a complex interplay between gender and skill endowment. Occupation-specific vocational skills only secure high income in the early career only for men who trained in male-typed or gender-neutral occupations. Women profit from a high proportion of general knowledge in their training. Furthermore, we find evidence for a general devaluation of female-typed skills. In sum, the findings suggest that employers’ discriminatory remuneration practices, a general devaluation of female-typed skills, and young people’s rational skill investment decisions contribute jointly to the gender gap in income.

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