The Nordic labour market already has a shortage of IT specialists and engineers, and trends like digitalisation, artificial intelligence, robotisation and biotechnology suggest a need to train many more.
Girls perform better
It is important to understand why girls and women in the Nordic countries do not choose higher education and careers in the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Despite the fact that girls perform as well or better than boys in science and technology subjects at school, few choose to study STEM subjects at university, a tendency that means women risk losing out on job opportunities in the professions of the future.
Loss to society
“It will be a huge loss for society if we fail to make the most of the potential competencies that women represent. We need to attract more talented girls to the STEM sector – for their own sake, for the sake of the sector and for the sake of society as a whole,” says Ylva Johansson, the Swedish Minister for Employment.
The new Nordic research project will address issues like why higher education choices continue to be gender stereotyped and whether there have been any successful initiatives to break the pattern.
Gender-segregated labour market
It will also look at career paths in high-tech industries, how easy or difficult it is to combine a career with a family in the STEM professions and whether the working environment in these industries is inclusive of both women and men.
“To achieve gender equality in the labour market overall, we need to reduce the gender imbalance in certain jobs,” says Ásmundur Einar Daðason, the Icelandic Minister of Social Affairs and Children.
The inter-sectoral project has been commissioned by the Nordic Council of Ministers for Education and Research, the Nordic Council of Ministers for Labour and the Nordic Council of Ministers for Gender Equality. It will be administered by Nordic Information on Gender (NIKK) and run until the end of 2020.