Vocational Schools for Women: The beginnings of institutional vocational training for girls goes back to the educational institutions of the Catholic women's orders (e.g. Ursulines, English Ladies, School Sisters) in the 17th century. In 1775 the state established an educational facility for the daughters of army officers and in 1786 a separate civilian boarding school for girls. Industrial schools also played an important role in the education of women. It was not until the 1860s that girls had access to a broader spectrum of educational and occupational choice; this came about as a parallel development to the notion of equality established in the Law governing Basic Civil Rights of 1867.
Education for girls focused primarily on the area of the home (cooking schools, schools for housekeeping, and home economics), and, schools also began to instruct women in needlework. The Austrian government established schools for women's commercial occupations (e.g. needle-point school in Vienna in 1874; lace-making course in Vienna in 1879; vocational school for machine embroidery in Dornbirn in 1891; central educational institute for women's occupations in Vienna in 1910). In Vienna alone there were more than 200 private schools for underwear and bedlinen sewing, clothing, millinery and corset-making in 1910.
In the First Republic the schools for women's occupations were reorganised, and different levels were created: colleges for women's commercial occupations (three-year programme), schools for women's occupations (two-year programme) and cooking and house-keeping schools (one-year programme).
Educational facilities for women's occupations have been under the jurisdiction of the Federal Ministry of Education since 1945; the School Act of 1962 was a further step in the restructuring process (five-year upper-level educational facilities, three-to-four-year vocational schools, two-year home economics schools, one-year home economics schools). When the system of coeducation was introduced in 1975, educational facilities for women's occupations were opened to boys; only a small percentage of boys (less than 1 %) take advantage of these facilities. In 1987 gender-specific designations for schools were generally abolished by equal rights legislation; however the curricula were changed only minimally. The term "educational facilities for women's occupations" has become outdated.