More than three quarters of the students at the Zug Teacher Training College (PH Zug = Pädagogischen Hochschule) are women. In contrast, women only make up 2 percent of all students in the Mechanical Engineering course at the ETH Zurich. That is regrettable, says Katarina Farkas, Diversity Officer at the PH Zug. “Gender-mixed teams simply work better, and research also shows that.”
In order to arouse the interest of women and men in occupational and study fields that are non-typical for their gender, Katarina Farkas, working together with representatives from education and business, has launched an equality project. The "More from Others" project, or "MevA" (= Mehr vom Anderen) for short, aims to implement measures to attract more women to STEM jobs (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and more men to jobs in health care and education. It is a cooperation between the PH Zug, the Vocational Training department of Roche Diagnostics International AG and the apprentice association Bildxzug.
There have been a number of gender equality projects in the canton of Zug in recent years. The current situation differs significantly from the previous efforts, however, says Katarina Farkas: “We want to create a new approach to the topic. The aim is to make existing projects on equality in education visible, to identify interfaces and to determine where there are gaps.” Markus Kälin, Head of Vocational Training at Roche Diagnostics International AG, has a similar view. “For the first time, all the players are sitting at one table looking for cross-divisional solutions. This expanded perspective will have a productive effect and open up new solutions,” Kälin is convinced.
There is also hope that the new project can counteract the shortage of skilled workers in the STEM sector. Roche, for example, currently employs 65 IT apprentices. Markus Kälin points out that it is already difficult to find suitable people to fill these apprenticeships.
“There is a shortage of skilled workers in the canton of Zug, particularly in IT. If we succeed in winning more women for these exciting professional fields, we can successfully plug a hole.”
Teachers receive further training in robotics and computer science in the Roberta-Regio Centre of the PH Zug
The gender equality project is already supported by the government, which has made a contribution of over CHF 30,000 for the years 2019 to 2021. The starting point for the “MevA” project was a study trip to Sweden in May 2019. The proportion of women in STEM jobs there is significantly higher. "This is due to the targeted promotion of STEM subjects among high school students and the family-friendly work structures for men and women," explains the diversity officer at PH Zug.
Following the trip to Sweden, 16 representatives from business, education and administration met for a kick-off meeting last autumn, and first ideas have emerged. For example, prospective teachers could gain an insight into technical professions in order to be able to report about them to female students at an early stage, or female role models from the STEM area could be invited to visit classes. “On the other hand, apprentices from companies such as Bildxzug or Roche could visit PH Zug to gain an insight into the teaching profession,” explains Farkas. A Mini-Science Lab for teacher training courses is also conceivable.