In a new survey, half of the young women who want to study technology say that they lack female role models. With a mentoring programme for high schools and the browser extension Re-Search, technology company Semcon hopes to stimulate broader perspectives in the industry.
The need for more women in the technology industry is great all over the world – both to increase diversity and to cover the demand for labour. At the same time, technology courses and companies that focus on engineering are dominated by men.
New survey: Every second young woman lacks role models
In a survey conducted in Sweden (Inizio/Semcon), seven out of ten young women indicated that role models are important when choosing their future course and career. Every second respondent who plans to study technology said that they currently lack female role models.
“Many young people do not realise what a big impact you can have on society as an engineer. Today, the majority of the technology around us is developed by men. We want more women to see themselves as engineers, which is why we developed a new search function,” says Markus Granlund, President and CEO of Semcon.
Re-Search: The browser extension that makes image searches more gender balanced
Images are important to our perception of what we can become, and the internet is the starting place for many young people. In a move to show more role models, Semcon has developed Re-Search, a browser extension that provides a more balanced picture of the different professions. When you perform an image search for a profession such as “engineer” with the Re-Search, a parallel search is automatically conducted where images of women, which would otherwise end up far down the page, are highlighted and presented in a new window.
At present, 60 professions are represented and more can be added as Re-Search is an open source solution where people can suggest additional professions.
Inspiration with mentoring programme for high schools
Without other people who show the way, Semcon believes that it is difficult to seriously balance the proportion of men and women engineers. Therefore, the company is now starting a mentoring programme that will initially encompass 30 high schools around Sweden. The programme includes lectures and targeted mentoring of female engineers at Semcon and mentees in classes. The goal is to answer questions and support the students’ ambition to move forward in a technical education.