9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN33 Women's and Gender Studies

2009-09-04 09:00:00 2009-09-04 10:30:00 Friday, 4 September 09:00 - 10:30 Gender Inequalities and Policies Building II, C4.02

Drop Out of Women Graduates using the Example of Engineers in Baden-Württemberg, Germany

As the Learning Society in Europe gains more importance, the need for graduates increases, especially in manufacturing. The percentage of female graduates overall ranges about 40%, in manufacturing there are only a few. This can be seen very clear in German-speaking countries, where the pseudo-choice between family and career is as conspicuous and unequal biased. This gets even intensified when it comes to manufacturing enterprises and careers.
Hence our current study, funded by the Economics Ministry of Baden-Württemberg, analyses the reasons and causes for women engineers to drop out of employment corresponding to their technical education. First, there is only a small, nonetheless slowly increasing, amount of women engineers in Germany. Only about 20% of graduates in engineering sciences are female. Out of all engineers employed and contributing to social insurance only about 11% are women. Furthermore, figures show that chances to be unemployed are more than 2 1/2 times amongst women engineers than their male counterparts. Nonetheless, there is a strong demand for skilled highly qualified and specialised personnel, particularly engineers in mechanical and process engineering. This paradox is the starting point of the research discussed. Literature suggests several reasons for this circumstance. Hence the necessity to clarify what part the Glass Ceiling, the lack of appropriate role models and Work-Life-Balance take. Another hypothesis leads us to focus on the evolving of habitus ambivalences which tend to make it impossible for women engineers to harmonise their different habitus and segregated concepts of technology.
The study carried out by Gender Studies in Engineering at the Technische Universität München longs to answer the questions as to why these women dropped out and how to win them back into technological fields. Hence, the study primarily consists of biographical telephone interviews among women who possess engineering degrees but are no longer or have never been employed in the professions their education led towards. Additionally, we identify the need for women engineers by surveying potential employers and run an expert workshop where recommendations for politics and economy are developed on how to encounter these drop outs and regain the out-dropped women engineers.