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Girls make early decision they won't be engineers

Career choices are mostly decided in high school, and fewer girls choose engineering and technology careers due to a lack of supportive environment, according to research of CETIN Hungary Zrt. The independent, integrated telecommunications infrastructure provider wants to change this by launching a free talent programme for secondary school girls in partnership with the Association of Hungarian Women in Science (NaTE).

The key aim of STEMpowered by CETIN is to show 11th-grade girls facing a career choice an alternative they rarely or never think about and help break down the barriers they face. In addition to developing maths skills and digital competences, the free programme will showcase the exciting opportunities in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) careers by linking science disciplines. It also helps in career guidance, complements classroom work, deepens the knowledge acquired and gives students a sense of achievement.

"The employment rate for women in Hungary exceeds 45 percent, yet constitute less than 14 percent of the workforce in the technology sector.  By STEMpowered by CETIN programme, launched with NaTE, we want to encourage women to pursue careers in engineering and technology. The data from our research confirms that this requires arousing interest already in secondary school and developing the subjects and skills necessary for self-fulfilment in girls who are open to further education," said Judit Kübler-Andrási, CEO of CETIN Hungary Zrt. With this programme, we also want girls who apply to see a role model - there are three women in the management of our company. Let me give you a personal example; I was very interested in both mathematics and physics, but when I was choosing a career, I had relatively few opportunities to discuss career paths, so I finally chose economics. STEMpowered by CETIN shows girls the choices and offers an insight into the beauty of engineering."

"We are determined to give young people the courage and confidence to enter STEM fields. We believe it is important that they make their choices based on their own experiences, rather than on social or family expectations. Science, technology, maths and engineering is an endlessly beautiful and exciting career – we want young girls to see the huge potential they offer. We're proud to be working with a partner who is equally passionate about encouraging girls into STEM careers," said Katalin Balázsi Dr, President of the Association of Hungarian Women in Science. “We are delighted to partner with CETIN Hungary to bring to life our new talent management programme, which will enable participating girls to connect with women and men in the professions, to see these careers as exciting and realistic opportunities for themselves, and to explore the exciting world of STEM fields."

A representative survey* conducted by CETIN Hungary sought to find out what factors influence women's choice of career, in particular of technical and technological careers. It looked at the influence of acquaintances, family, school and peer groups, as well as intrinsic motivations.

When asked what is stopping women from choosing STEM careers, the response with the highest percentage (27%) was that not enough attention is paid in education to getting girls interested in STEM. There is a notable difference between the genders in this respect, with women perceiving this as a more serious reason, with 32% of women indicating this option, compared to only 22% of men (respondents could have given more than one option here).

More men (27%) think that career paths are decided at an early age: girls play less with gadgets, so they have less chance to get familiar with the field (19% of women chose this option).

In addition to these factors, female respondents said that the lack of female role models (19%) and the lack of self-confidence as well as the perception that girls cannot succeed in a field of study (22%) were also more important factors.

This could be one reason why only half (48%) of the men surveyed had not considered a job in this field, compared to a much higher 69% of women. In most cases – 57% of respondents – career choices are made relatively early, in upper secondary school, and there is little difference between men and women. The majority of those surveyed (59%) do not consider engineering and technology to be a masculine career, while around a third (29%) consider it to be a more masculine profession.

STEMpowered by CETIN – a programme for talent

The weekly, STEM-focused sessions develop mathematical and digital competences over the course of a school year. The complex initiative aims not only to impart knowledge but also to provide individual and group mentoring, where participants also develop skills that are now essential for successful career choices and success in their chosen career.

The professionals involved not only impart professional knowledge but also help interested secondary school girls to develop confidence, awareness and self-esteem.

The programme strengthens participants' engagement in STEM fields by systematically developing the soft skills essential for independent learning, such as time management, non-routine problem solving, adaptability, complex communication and interpersonal skills, and self-confidence.

Interested 11th-grade girls can register for the programme starting on 10 October at until 28 September.

*The survey was conducted using the Opinio market research app, with 1,258 respondents interviewed between 23 and 26 August 2023. The results are nationally representative of Hungarians aged 16-59 with a smartphone, by age, gender, education, type and place of residence.