Empowering young women at the very beginning of their careers and providing them with adequate support in choosing the right career path is one of the priorities of the “Education to Employment” (E2E) project, an eight-year partnership project of the governments of Switzerland and Serbia that’s designed to create preconditions for faster youth employment
Facing various stereotypes and socially- imposed choices, girls most often choose occupations that are exclusively in the domain of “womanish”. That also applies to young men, who are usually seen as being appropriate for some “hard-working, male-dominated” jobs.
In order to avoid such conventoinalised and ingrained career decisions, the E2E project is making various interventions. The main E2E activities within the gender intervention strategy include:
• Providing tailor-made and gender-orientated career guidance and counselling activities;
• Facilitating work-based learning programmes (non-formal training organised within companies);
• Promoting gender-related success stories and activities through different forms: social media posts, various videos and brochures.
Through tailored career guidance and counselling measures, trained career practitioners within the E2E project are organising group thematic career workshops with a special focus on gender issues, or how gender stereotypes influence the career decisions of young girls and boys and how these young people can reflect and overcome those gender stereotypes.
Furthermore, career practitioners organise real-world encounters in which one person presents and speaks about their occupation: how they succeeded in an occupation traditionally dominated by the other gender, what gender-related obstacles they encountered and what practical advice they would offer to overcome such obstacles. The aim is to increase self-esteem and self-efficiency among young people, especially young women and young girls, who mostly face various gender stereotypes in their career planning and when making career decisions.
On the other side, the E2E local partners on the ground, supporting companies in the organising of work-based learning programmes (WBL), aim to create equal access to those programmes for both male and female participants, in order to promote particular WBL models in a way that renders them open to all. Although some occupations are male-dominated or vice versa, the training programme should be presented in a way that makes it open and attractive to both male and female participants. E2E local partners are using gender-sensitive language and terms, images, creating and defining equal criteria during the trainee selection process, working with employers and in-company mentors, and presenting the benefits of having female/male trainees.
The aim is to increase selfesteem and self-efficiency among young people, especially young women and young girls, who mostly face various gender stereotypes in their career planning and when making career decisions
During the implementation of WBL programmes, we have seen a few positive examples of female trainees in male dominated occupations/male trainees in female- dominated occupations, such as Marija Nikolić – the first E2E female WBL mentor in welding. She has received only words of praise from her young trainees, who emphasise that she is the one who teaches them the most.
“In the beginning, the trainees were kind of ‘amazed’ to see that training for welders is conducted by a woman, considering that they believed it’s a ‘man’s job’.
“To be honest, even when I started to work on this job, everybody found me ‘intriguing’. I believe that they were sceptical about me knowing how to do it, until they saw for themselves that I do know. All in all, I adore what I do and I love my co-workers, who are always here to help me. I simply love my job,” says Marija.