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DN Debate. Despite strong interest in technology, women are not engineers

How we do higher education is crucial for Sweden's development and prosperity. Not least, engineering education plays an important role for both the private an

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DN Debate. Despite strong interest in technology, women are not engineers

How we do higher education is crucial for Sweden's development and prosperity. Not least, engineering education plays an important role for both the private and public working life. Competence is the key to success. But despite the fact that 60 per cent of all university students are women, women account for only 30 per cent of the number of students on the teknikutbildningarna. Even if the figure increased in the last decade, the trend is far too slow. This is a huge loss both for women themselves and for the whole working life, which is in great need of new skills.

the Image of what it means to work as, for example, an engineer must, in this context radically improved. Here is a common national responsibility in the private and public sector employers, universities and colleges, and politicians. Admittedly, there are many different initiatives over a long period of time has worked to increase the number of female technology students, but very few of the nationally coordinated initiatives exist. The internship programme Tekniksprånget is an example of a unique national initiative which has for many years shown great interest in technology among young women.

Tekniksprånget a four-month program with a paid internship which is run by the Royal Swedish academy of engineering sciences (IVA), strive together with the Swedish employers and the government to ensure that tomorrow's skills supply , while at the same time excites and motivates young people to higher technical education. The program, which has been underway since 2012, involving 200 employers who offer internships at over 100 locations. To date has over 17 000 young people applied, of which about 4,000 have completed internships through the program. Half of all trainees are young women.

currently, Tekniksprånget an updated compilation of its annual portalundersökning, where between 2015 and 2018 have examined the 10 000 young people's attitudes, expectations and concerns about the higher studies and working life. The analysis of the several thousands of responses lead to exciting conclusions, not least when the respondents are divided on the basis of gender.

Women are of great interest to technology – but to succeed in recruiting them to the engineering education they need to be given the opportunity to test on the subject area, for example through traineeships.

Among other things, the survey shows that young women who are in their final year of upper secondary education are significantly more reluctant to choose the higher technical education than young men. Women are also uncertain of how the labour market will look out for them in the future: nearly one in three women compared with one in five young men report that they feel such a concern. Furthermore, 12 percent of the women who reasons for their uncertainty, ”mathematics is difficult”, compared to 8 per cent of men. This is despite the fact that on average women have better results in primary school and in high school.

Women have a huge interest for technology – but for recruiting them to the engineering education they need to be given the opportunity to test on the subject area, for example through traineeships.

the Figures are clear: only 30 percent of all applicants to higher technical education are women. But young women who have undergone Tekniksprånget become significantly more interested in such training. After four months to 80 percent – four out of every five – of all that made Tekniksprångspraktik study further to become an engineer. Of these, half are women.

To get practice with a competent and engaged guide means to the women as the men get an insight into the professions that is waiting and what it means to work with technology. Thus, they become greatly motivated to seek and implement a technical or naturveten-decent university or college education. Also, employers who receive trainees testify that they are by the relatively young trainees, not least the women, into new thinking and new values in the workplace.

And the employers ' involvement in the issue is reflected clearly in the young women who apply to the program: 86% of them saw it as important to their future employers working with diversity.

Our opinion is, therefore, clear – the ability to practice on, inter alia, the field of technology for the youngsters who passed out of high school should be strengthened and developed, for several reasons: to improve the link between studies and working life, in order to take advantage of young women's interest in technology, to even out the gender balance in a number of sectors and to respond to employers ' large kompetensförsörjningsbehov within the field of technology. Our new surveys show, in other words how the current situation represents a significant waste of interest in technology and engagement in young women. We note also the following:

1 One of the fundamental problems is how the engineering profession is marketed, or ”sold out”. When young people get the test on the subject area of increasing interest staggering: 80 percent of all as practiced in the Tekniksprånget say, as mentioned above, want to be engineers after only four months on the job. Therefore, there is a significant contrast between what the young women think that a ingenjörskarriär looks compared with what that actually means.

2 Women have a higher score than men N - or T-programs in the high school, but even so, it is a higher proportion of women who are uncertain about higher technical studies is something for them. The young women's uncertainty and the unfortunate lack of confidence in this area must be addressed. This need, universities and colleges, the workplace and policy work far more closely together with the factual information and inspiration.

In a forthcoming change of governance of higher education, there must be both guidelines and resources in order to achieve an effective interaction between the university and the world of work. In other fields of study such as nursing and teacher education, it is also a clear imbalance among the sexes, but with a very large preponderance of women. It perhaps needed both a ”vårdsprång” and a ”lärarsprång”.

3 An additional serious challenge is the high drop-out rates, which each year takes place from engineering education. Internship Tekniksprånget leads according to the survey, fewer such dropouts; motivation to complete the training is great. The practice is, therefore, educationally, matchningsmässigt and, ultimately, a socially important and profitable.

Tekniksprånget has in a unique way managed to get more women interested in engineering, and raised their motivation.

But the program is threatened with closure unless the government is prepared to change the ethos of the Tekniksprånget – from time-limited projects to the important part of the educational ecosystem. Tekniksprånget need a notice from the government on this issue. Sweden cannot afford to ignore this.

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