Educational organizations and gender equality institutions meet every year in Spain to share good practices and innovative didactic initiatives on coeducation and equal opportunities for women and men. The meeting is called Intercambia and is promoted by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports (CNIIE), and Instituto de la Mujer, the Woman’s Institute of the Spanish Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality.

Milagros Sáinz, director of Gender and ICT, offered the keynote lecture in the XII Intercambia meeting, held in Madrid on 23 November and dedicated to the academic and occupational guidance to students. Sáinz showed current data on the masculinization of technological careers and occupations and highlighted that women are concentrated in the most socially devalued areas: education, health, languages, law and social sciences. Among the reasons that could explain vocational segregation and the underrepresentation of women in technological fields, she pointed at the motivational and psychosocial factors found in the quantitative and qualitative research that she has developed during the last years, such as: the lack of feminine reference models in media representations and among the teachers of technological disciplines, the influence of gender roles and stereotypes in adolescents’ academic choices, and the lack of information on the social and health applications of the STEM fields, so that many women and some men perceive these occupations out of their main motivations.

In the media as well as in the familiar and educational environment of adolescents there are distorted and simplified images of the different occupations and their gender implications. At the same time, sexist biases about the academic abilities of women and men still exist, which continue to differentiate between the competences of boys and girls and undervalue women’s skills. Milagros Sáinz ended her lecture offering recommendations to address sexism and discrimination, from revising school textbooks to enhancing teachers and employers’ awareness on gender inequalities.

 

 

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