Vera road show – a national tour focusing on gender equality

Published: 27 February 2019

The start of the tour was, on February 26 at Vetenskapens hus in Luleå, for The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (IVA) national tour, with a focus on gender equality supply, which is aimed at primary school students, high school students, engineering students, professional engineers, companies, politicians and other interested people.

In connection with this, Martin Wikström, research and education expert at IVA, presented the new report, Technical imbalance? An IVA report on gender equality in the engineering profession. In the report, IVA together with Sveriges Ingenjörer and Teknikföretagen have surveyed how it looks for girls and women in everything from mathematics studies to the engineering profession. The male dominance of the country's engineering education is still great, especially among education such as data, machine and electronics. Despite higher grades in, for these courses, relevant subjects, fewer girls than boys study a Master of Engineering. Reasons that emerged during the discussions at Vetenskapens hus in Luleå, were that girls generally have greater demands on themselves and that too few female role models are highlighted among civil engineers.

Wish for more facts about the civil engineering profession

– For many high school girls, it is not obvious what a civil engineer works with. The goal for us is to provide girls in upper secondary school with a basis when it comes to the civil engineering profession, so that they can make an active choice when choosing what to read after high school. We also want to broaden the picture of who works with technology, Emma Hansson, said, who is in the mentoring program Pepp, who wants to attract more women to study a Master of Engineering.

However, IVA's new report shows that a change is in progress in the working life, even though it is slow. Among today's 25-29 year-olds, 30 per cent of women work in the civil engineering profession, compared with 12-13 per cent among women aged 60-64.

– The number of civil engineers in working life is growing from below, but it is not so great, Martin Wikström, stated.

Doing career as a civil engineer

A panel debate was also arranged in Vetenskapens hus, which raised the question of what an equal career as a civil engineer can look like, with Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn, Vice-Chancellor at Luleå University of Technology, Jonas Gustavsson, CEO of ÅF, Ulrika Lindstrand, President of The Swedish Association of Graduate Engineers, Anna Vestin, Master Programme in Engineering Physics and Electrical Engineering and Martin Wikström, research and education policy expert at IVA.

– We are trying to get more women into senior positions, because we notice that the results are getting better with mixed teams. And the women who graduates from the civil engineering programs are amazingly competent and therefore we have to ask ourselves, what kind of company should we be so that they choose us? Jonas Gustavsson, said.

Targeted girls choose safe cards

Anna Vestin, a student at the Master of Science program in engineering physics and electrical engineering, at Luleå University of Technology, meant that lack of knowledge of the civil engineering profession means that targeted girls prefer to choose a safe card when they seek education at the university.

One issue that was once again was discussed, was the importance of increasing knowledge about what civil engineers actually work with.

– I think one important thing to get more women interested in reading for a Master of Science (MSc) is to highlight what a civil engineer do to develope the society? Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn, said..

–You also need to have names of courses that actually are relevant to the professions you are going to work with, Ulrika Lindstrand said.

Appreciated lectures were given

After the debate, much appreciated lectures were given by Ella Carlsson Sjöberg, deputy director of The Swedish Institute of Space Physics , Lena Abrahamsson, professor of Human Work Scinece at Luleå University of Technology, Linda Lundmark, digital business developer at the company Tromb, Ida Sandsten, Software Engineer, Saab AB in Luleå, and Kristian Nilsson, project manager for Tekniksprånget at IVA.

Henrik Bylund, Metria AB, who was in the audience at Vetenskapens hus,  meant that the companies probably have to start getting involved earlier in order to get more people interested in studying a Master of Engineering, because the need of for that knowledge will increase.