The baseline study of attitudes towards gender equality in career choices of students and teachers has been the first step in tackling the issue of gender (in)equality in school curricula and career orientation. Questionnaires in English and in all four national languages have been developed for the two target groups. The study has been run during the Spring school semester in all the partner’s countries – Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece and Romania. Questionnaires were distributed to about 4000 high school students and close to 800 teachers. In most cases the questionnaires were provided on paper to students in the classroom setting. Some online questionnaires also have been distributed but they received much less responses.
High school students overall, have a basic understanding of gender, female respondents tended to find the issue more important than male respondents. In their opinion, Students rarely or never get in school information on gender equality, especially positive role models free of gender stereotypes.
The overwhelming majority (around 80% in each country) stated that gender equality is important but in the specific country it has not been fully achieved. The major fields of equality for students are the equality in legal proceedings, equal access to education, equal treatment in the society and equal opportunities for professional development.
Most of respondents stated that both women and men should participate in the family care work. Students strongly rejected the hypothesis that women should stay at home as well as the hypotesis that men cannot take care of young children.
Students found certain qualities generally belonging to women/girls and not to men/boys, and vice versa. Most notably career options/professions were quite often attributed as better suited to women or to men, especially cosmetician, nurse, electrician, auto-mechanic etc. Clearly the impact of stereotypes was found in the attitude to the profession of teachers in kindergarten found by almost 70% as a female profession while civil engineer and elecrician were found as typically male with the same prevalence. There is a very strong support (close to 90%) for the statement that there are professions where men are much better than women and vice versa. The only statement that was categorically rejected (by more than 70% of the respondents) was that men and women should be paid differently for the work of equal value.
Surpisingly, in the question on whom students rely to get career guidance, very few students replied that they received career guidance from schools or professionals, most rely on parents, internet, or friends and quite a few made emphasis on the fact that they chose by themselves their career direction. This question rings true to the fact that high schools in the partner’s countries have rarely sound career guidance counselors, and go through high school without systematic professional guidance.
Most teachers replied that they were familiar with gender as a concept, from their schooling however almost all found that they lacked guides/materials on how to integrate gender into their field. Also discussion of gender issues according to most teachers takes place during extra-curricular activity. The professional education that teachers receive lacks information on gender, that is never or rarely do teachers gain information related to gender. Many responding teachers were open to attending a training on this subject and the majority wanted materials which would enable male and female students to be equally interested in their subject. Many teachers noticed a difference between male and female students interest in their subject and most would like for both male and female students to be equallly interested in the subjects they teach. Teachers in the questionnaires frequently expressed certain biases regarding male/female roles.
Teachers admit to different extent that men are better in technical and engineering professions and that it is normal women to leave the professional career if it impedes her family duties; they also admit that there are professions where women and men perform differently and that it is much easier for men than for women to find a better paid job.
Most of the respondents stated that in their subject matter they didn’t get across texts and images promoting gender equality. More than half withnessed differences in the atitudes and interest of girls and boys towards their specific subject matter, the interests of girls being more clearly expressed.
As a general impression teachers felt being not enough well prepared to tackle gender issues in their subject matter and lacking a framework as well as methods and instruments to introduce the equality issues in professional orientation of students.