The campaign “You can be whoever you want! The profession has no gender “
We have been working for women’s rights and socio-economic justice for almost 20 years. We deal with the problem of discrimination and gender inequalities on a daily basis – we carry out research on the problem, publicize it and run advocacy and campaigning activities regarding these issues .
This time we want to draw attention to following issues:
- how gender stereotypes influence the choice of career path by teenagers;
- and how it affects the situation of women on the labour market in Poland.
Diagnosis of the situation
As our research shows*, the gender strongly influences the choices of educational profile in secondary schools. This is evident in the number of girl and boy students of vocational schools, where girls make up less than 30% of the students. Girl teenagers who go to vocational schools, in majority choose the economic, administrative or service-related classes. Their choices very often result from gender stereotypes related to professions. The girls choose those classes and professions that their social environment from which they come from, considers as suitable for women. Consequently, after graduating from schools, these girls enter professions that are heavily feminized, less paid and less in demand on the labour market, comparing to professions where men dominate. As a result, women with vocational education earn almost PLN 1000 less than men with the same education!
Why is it like that?
When carrying out research on vocational education and labour market, we have noticed that unfavourable for women division into so-called the male and female professions is supported by gender stereotypes and language.
- in vocational schools there is the greatest disproportion in numbers of girls and boys, and a significant gender segregation in most fields of study; on the vocational courses where boys highly dominate, there is less than one percent of girls;
- vocational schools have a much richer offer of courses in the so-called male professions; the rooted gender stereotypes repeated by parents, peers, teachers, career counselors and finally the girls themselves, constitute a strong barrier to the girls to access the vocational courses perceived as the traditionally men ones.
There are still no actions to overcome these barriers. That’s why we think that …
Time For A Change!
We are convinced that the time has come for a change! It’s time for girls to have equal opportunities in accessing the professions.
As part of the “Profession has no gender. You can be whoever you want! “:
We want that the girls and women:
- make an informed choice of their professional path and follow their passions;
- take into account current and future employment trends on the labour market when choosing a profession.
- consider learning a profession that will provide them with a reasonable remuneration and economic independence;
- do not let the gender stereotypes determine their educational choices and do not succumb to the pressure of the environment when choosing a profession.
Since 2015, we have been carrying out activities which main goals are to draw public attention to the problems we have diagnosed, and to contribute to the changes in social awareness and in the system.
However, there is an urgent need to carry out extensive campaigning activities that will crush gender stereotypes, which hinder girls’ equal access to professions in vocational education.
We have already established cooperation with renowned and socially engaged artists who supported us in the campaign for making equal access to professions for both, women and men.
- Marta Frej, artist, feminist and graphic designer, whose memes accurately, sharply but with a sense of humour comment on Polish reality. She has made 4 memes for us (See);
- Rzeczy Obrazkowe, the design studio awarded in the Polish Graphic Design Awards, has prepared for us two animated short films encouraging girls to choose vocational schools. (See)
Both the memes and films met with great interest in social media – in less than a year, the memes reached to nearly 200,000 people.
In addition, during the campaign, we disseminate knowledge about the situation of girls and women with vocational education (read “In-depth analysis of the situation of girls in vocational education”) and we raise the topic of how language influences the girls’ access to professions (read …).
We want to produce another set of audiovisual materials (graphics and animated short films) that we will use in a social campaign in social media. The materials will be equally attractive and accurate in their message as the memes by Marta Frej or animated short films by the design studio Rzeczy Obrazkowe.