Part of the 4TU.Federation
4TU.
Centre for
Engineering Education

Project introduction and background information

In The Netherlands, much stronger implicit and explicit gender stereotypes of science and engineering professions prevail than in other countries. Compared to 66 investigated nations, The Netherlands scores highest on gender-stereotypical images of science and engineering and lowest on the influx of female students in STEM bachelors. To increase the number of students opting for science and engineering studies, many actions have been taken, one of which is the option to choose a Research and Design track at specific secondary schools (the O&O track at the Technasium schools).

Objective and expected outcomes

Although such efforts have resulted in a higher percentage of girls choosing a STEM-oriented track in secondary school, still only 27% of the girls that start a BA university program enrols in a STEM-study. Possible reasons for this may relate to the implicit and explicit gender-stereotypical attitudes that prevail in The Netherlands and to a lack of female STEM role models. In this paper, results are presented of a qualitative interview study with pupils and teachers from Research and Design tracks at different secondary schools in The Netherlands.

Results and learnings

Results show that even in the Research and Design tracks at secondary school, pupils and teachers seem to be unaware of the importance of explicating the low influx of female STEM students and its relation to implicit gender stereotypical images and a lack of female role models. As a consequence, very few female STEM role models are provided to pupils and little conscious effort is put into countering potential gender stereotypes and stimulating girls to choose for science and engineering.

Practical outcomes

More could be found in the paper (at the downloads on the right): “Why Do Dutch Girls Do Not Choose For Science And Engineering? A Focus On Gender Stereotypes And A Lack Of Female Role Models”  by J.H. Walma van der Molen.