Spotlight Story | Cliché-free attracting female STEM young talent - tips for companies

With the question of how companies can attract girls and young women to MINT professions, Dr. Inga Zeisberg from the zdi center in Münster. In her following essay she describes which prejudices still exist and how to counter them. And she gives numerous suggestions for companies that want to address girls without clichés.

In campaign months such as the "zdi heroines October" the focus is clearly on recruiting young women for scientific and technical professions. Although changes have been taking place for years and the proportion of women in typically male professions is constantly increasing, there is still a long way to go before we are evenly distributed. This is desirable not only because mixed teams are proven to be more communicative and work more effectively, but also because women in these professions can earn their own living and support a family. The compatibility of family and work, which always plays a major role for young women when choosing a career, not only includes family-friendly working hours, but also an appropriately high salary. Professions, for example in the IT industry, offer these salaries and also a certain future viability. Many of these new technical professions also offer the opportunity to help shape the world in a sustainable way, which is another criterion for young women when choosing a career.

Anyone who would like to exchange more information on the topic can contact the coordinator of the zdi center:

zdi center m³
dr Inga Zeisberg
Telephone: 0251 – 83 36198

Women in crafts – overcoming clichés

However, trades also have a future, are creative and formative and are of course equally suitable for girls and boys. However, if companies want to attract young women and have so far only received applications for training positions from boys, it is advisable to revise the profile, the external image and the overall attitude. This not only focuses on explicitly addressing girls, but also aims to improve the working atmosphere overall, because what is good for young women will not harm young men.

These approaches become particularly clear when they are viewed together with the prevailing clichés about women in skilled trades. The ones listed below are the most obvious, well-known and serve as an initial sensitization to the topic of cliché-free recruiting of young people. After reading and self-analysis, the view is certainly already open to changes on a small or even large scale and should only serve as a starting point for the search for your own way to win the female offspring of tomorrow without clichés.

“Women are too weak for crafts”

For women, the recommended upper load limit is 25 kg, for men it is 40 kg. However, since there are strong women as well as slender men, and the latter most certainly also in one of your companies, it seems to make sense for the entire workforce to have a concept for carrying heavy loads. In this way, everyone's health is maintained and women do not receive special treatment. Rather, the caring attitude of the employer has a positive effect on all employees in the company.

"The things don't suit me anyway."

It is not clearly communicated why work clothing is more expensive for women in skilled trades than for men. But that shouldn't stop employers from investing in suitable clothing for women. This has less to do with women's vanity than with safety aspects – does the jacket sag, do the gloves fit? Here it is worth talking to the women in the company and having an appreciative attitude in relation to the willingness to procure.

"Men earn more than women."

"One talks about money. Period,” says Henrike Platen, Managing Director of Fair Pay Innovation Lab. What is meant is not that all employees should earn the same money, but rather that it is transparently communicated why which salary is paid. If everyone can understand it, fair payment has been made and the procedure is a big plus for young women. 

"Dealing with clichés: conscious attitude, conscious language"

Not only pictures speak a clear language and so it is pointed out at every point that the photos on the Internet and on flyers should also show women in active roles. The language is also crucial: are women only meant or are they actively addressed? If you develop a conscious attitude, make it clear to yourself why you want women in your team, then gender-neutral language will also work. Job advertisements can also reflect this attitude.

Tip: Do you have a female trainee in your otherwise male-dominated company?

Do not leave the trainee alone! She's young and needs to get used to her new role. Find contact with other companies that also have female trainees and allow a peer group exchange. Or are you already working with some women? Provide the trainee with a mentor. Of course, this concept is also conceivable for the male trainees, because both are still apprentices and could certainly use good encouragement.

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