The career choice of women and men – a cliché? Why is it like that, and (how) can it be changed?
Governesses, paediatricians, construction workers, physicists – many professions in Germany are typically performed by women or by men. Little has changed in this regard in the last three decades. This is all the more astonishing because differences between men and women in many other areas such as labour force and educational participation or gender norms have become smaller or even disappeared. Even though career choice is related to different individual interests, it is closely linked to other inequalities in the labour market, such as income, career opportunities and aspects of reconciliation. Against this background, the causes and consequences of gender (un)typical career choices are repeatedly discussed in research and the media. Initiatives such as Girls Day or Boys Day aim to contribute to changes. However, significant breaks are not to be expected if one considers that girls and boys have already learned in kindergarten and primary school age from their social environment, the media and everyday observations, e.g. in the doctor’s office or on the construction site, which professions are typically male or female. But the course can also be set at a later age. Research results show, for example, that the comparatively few young people who can imagine a gender-atypical profession do not take it up after all. It is conceivable that they fear or have experienced rejection from family, friends, companies and the work environment. Examples such as the increasing number of female students in civil engineering over the last few years show that changes are possible in some areas.
So how cemented is the division of the labour market into male and female professions? And where do we have to start if we want to change something NOW? Which young women and men are encouraged in gender-atypical career choices or turn away from them? In this YES! project we want to go into depth: How important are career interests to young people? How do friends, parents or teachers view a gender-atypical career choice, and how do young people perceive these reactions? And do companies want their employee teams to become more diverse regarding gender? Where are the interfaces from these perspectives so that initiatives can be developed?