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Overcoming the STEM Gender Gap: from School to Work

TitleOvercoming the STEM Gender Gap: from School to Work
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsBerra M, Cavaletto GMaria
Secondary TitleItalian Journal of Sociology of Education
Date Published06/2020
PublisherPadova University Press
Place PublishedPadova, IT
ISSN Number2035-4983
Keywordsgender bias, school-work transition, skill mismatch, STEM gender gap

Despite improving education and better performance, women in Italy remain largely under-represented in the technical-scientific tracks. This form of segregation, due to both enduring gender stereotypes and the peculiar structure of the Italian education system, tends to exclude women from the more requested professions. The lack of further education policies and targeted interventions in support of a transition from school to work for young people, makes for endemic school-work mismatch affecting the entire students supply chain by creating a dual male-female labour market in the economy 4.0. The purpose of this work was to develop a best practice in order to bridge the gender gap in the STEM area, both at school and later in the workplace. Results of the action research project named “STEM Women: A Challenge for the School, an Opportunity for Businesses, a Search for Talents”, covered the Piedmont Region. An operational network was set up, including representatives from universities, public institutions, schools and technology enterprises. A survey involving a sample of 572 high school students, evaluated male and female STEM preference, quality of teaching and orientation for future employment. To promote female self-confidence in personal scientific ability and help in deciding to choose a career in STEM, researchers and female leaders from technology Companies were asked to hold meetings at high school level, and visits to STEM firms were organized. In the final stages of the research project, a public meeting was held to enable male and female students to discuss the cultural, economic and social implications of increased female presence in the STEM professions.