Schoolchildren about STEM professions: General and gender-specific representations

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The persistent gender imbalance in the labor market - both in Russia and globally - is largely formed during the school years as the period of the development of professional preferences and human capital. The article presents the views of schoolchildren on various aspects of the STEM school subjects, including their common interests, attitudes to the STEM teaching, their role in choosing a career related to STEM, and the ideas of schoolchildren about jobs related to STEM. The authors refer to the Soviet experience of overcoming gender inequality in the labor market, in particular, by helping women to get the industrial and specialized technical education. The results of the search study show that for the majority of girls, especially those not engaged in special education projects focused on STEM, school profile lessons do not contribute to changing gender representations of professions. The authors argue that to change these gender representations we need classes focused not on the academic achievements but on the practical features of professions that are in demand in the labor market. Such an experience is necessary for it is impossible to choose the most promising career if you do not know about it or if you are convinced that you would not cope with a particular job. At the same time, the schoolchildren should understand that some of today’s professions have very short future, for instance, due to the inevitable consequences of automation. The schoolchildren’s positioning of all professions as gender-neutral can be used for a positive study of career-related challenges and for designing career-guidance activities as taking into account those aspects that are essential for girls and boys, even if at the moment they are perceived negatively.

About the authors

E. M. Kolesnikova

Institute of Sociology FCTAS RAS

Author for correspondence.

кандидат социологических наук, старший научный сотрудник сектора социологии профессий и профессиональных групп Института социологии

Krzhizhanovskogo St., 24/35-5, Moscow, 117218, Russia

I. A. Kudenko

Education Development Trust


кандидат географических наук, ведущий консультант

Highbridge House, 16-18, Duke Street, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 4RU, UK


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Copyright (c) 2021 Kolesnikova E.M., Kudenko I.A.

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