VHTO has developed a gender scan to map the opportunities for optimising policy and activities regarding gender/girls and STEM. The gender scan of STEM-study programmes within Vocational Education & Training (VET) and universities is performed together with key stakeholders involved in the study programs (e.g., deans, program managers, intake managers, public relations officers) female students, and science teachers from secondary schools.
Based on the gender scan, VTHO develops and action plan with a focus on female students, a full day workshop on how to implement proposed actions, and the formation of a gender team. The main aim of a gender scan trajectory is to raise gender awareness, to formulate and implement relevant actions, and to create a group that feels responsible for pushing the gender theme forward within the school/university.
The gender scan includes five themes, which together form the gender compass:
- Institutional policy: focus on gender mainstreaming, quantitative awareness on girls in STEM education, staff policy, formation of a team with special focus on gender in STEM education).
- Outreach to female students in secondary education with a focus on science and technology. Special attention is paid to parents and teachers. Universities are encouraged to organize “girls only” activities (e.g., a high tea with female STEM students, speed-date sessions, or guest lectures).
- Educational innovation: educational restructuring or innovation is an excellent opportunity for gender mainstreaming. Impact of changes and their effect on intake, retention and drop-out of male and female students should be carefully monitored.
- Orientation on professions and professional practice. Information about all career prospects is vital when it comes to recruiting and retaining female students, and encouraging them in the next step in their (educational) career. Female students profit from contact with female professionals (e.g., in guest lectures and workshops).
- Regional networks: universities could be more successful in reaching out to girls with STEM potential, in influx, retention and successful transition to the labour market of female students, when they cooperate with partners from their “influx market” of schools for secondary education, and their “outflux market” of companies who might employ their students.