How do gender stereotypes influence career and study choices?

I am male and therefore engineer!

Girls still predominantly choose professions in the fields of social work, health and education. Boys, on the other hand, primarily go for crafts and technical occupations. A larger overlap exists in some commercial occupations. On an academic level, gender-specific choices are less common. Nevertheless, among first-year students in engineering sciences, women accounted for just 21 per cent in 2014, compared to 68 per cent in humanities and 74 per cent in education.*

Whether a female student chooses a supposedly female profession or not depends, firstly, on how parents and teachers live up to their role models in relation to classical role behaviour. Additionally there is the impact of the social background. A girl growing up in an engineering household is more likely to choose the profession than a girl growing up in a non-technical environment. Secondly, genetic predispositions also influence the choice of profession. On average, boys have a better spatial perception than girls. However, this does not automatically make them the better engineers. For many years now, there have been events that counteract gender stereotypes. For example Girls’ Day (28.03.2019), Boys’ Day (28.03.2019), the initiative “Komm, mach MINT” (Come, join MINT), which promotes women in STEM professions, or the Planet Beruf magazine “SOZIAL for you“, which promotes social professions among boys.

 

Encouraging students to pursue non-gender-specific education and study programmes requires investing time and being creative.

 

This is something you will certainly be familiar with from your own recruitment experience. Ideally, you should design your career and study information to be gender-sensitive, in other words tailored to the respective needs of the genders. At this year’s Einstieg Cologne, we had a look for you and brought back a few examples.

 

The Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Technical University of Darmstadt has set up a try-out day aimed exclusively at female students. Fachhochschule des Mittelstandes (FHM) has designed its info postcards in two colours, pink and blue, following the clichés of colour preferences. The front side caught particular attention as the male and female form of the German word “Klugscheißer” (smart aleck) was published on there.

 

Since the fall of 2018, Siemens has been using the “MINTfluencer” campaign to promote technical careers and dual courses of study to girls in particular. At the fair, interested students did not just receive flyers but also mint-coloured nail polish, which is a beautiful give-away that catches the eye. Elisabeth Fischedick from Siemens told us that the girls who visit the stand looking for information are very straightforward and know exactly what they want. The campaign is also aimed at boys, though this time the primary focus lies on young women.

The campaign is shown on the Siemens training pages, as well as on Youtube, Facebook and Instagram.

 

 

 

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