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As one of the OECD countries with the lowest percentage of women in STEM professions is Switzerland, the OST - Ostschweizer Fachhochschule is now launching a new research project at the Institute for Gender and Diversity (IGD) to investigate how to create more attractive jobs in the STEM sector while incorporating the New Work mindset. The aim is to put the findings into practice by 2025 in the five partner companies Bühler, INFICON, Linde Kryotechnik, Liip, and RUAG through targeted measures. The project is supported by the Swiss Federal Office for Gender Equality (EBG).

New Work: meaningful, free, self-determined and socially competent

"Together with our project partners, we want to use the opportunities and the changed, more open attitude towards a new work design to counter the shortage of female skilled workers in the MINT sector and to create new approaches to solutions," announces Prof. Dr. Alexandra Cloots as head of the IGD institute. "New Work" refers to the transformation of work with the aim that it can be meaningful, free, self-determined and socially competent in terms of the organization. Central to this is therefore the design of work and the development of new forms of work.

Investment in the future

In many companies in the STEM sector, there is a need for action to make jobs more attractive for female specialists in order to remain innovative and competitive. Otherwise, the STEM sector will lose a lot of potential. Dr. Bernhard Andreaus, Managing Director of INFICON AG, therefore sees his company's participation in the project as an investment in the future: "INFICON is helping to shape the future, is dedicated to the technical minds of tomorrow and promotes technological progress. We place special emphasis on promoting women who want to develop their potential in technological progress."

Anchoring measures sustainably

The aim of the research project is to design the working framework based on the needs of female STEM professionals. Bühler AG, INFICON AG, Liip AG, Linde Kryotechnik AG, and RUAG A, as partner companies in the project, will receive specifically developed measures that, accompanied by the project team, will be elaborated and implemented in the companies. "With the help of the empirical findings of the research project, we will develop and implement additional instruments that will enable us to attract more female professionals to our company in the long term," predicts Debora Saracino, Employer Branding Specialist at RUAG AG. Implementation in the companies should ensure that the measures are anchored in the companies sustainably and beyond the end of the project. Beatrice Bütler, Head of Human Resources at Linde Kryotechnik AG, also strives for this goal: "We want to remain an attractive employer for female professionals in the future." In workshops, the companies also benefit from mutual exchange. "We hope to exchange information on what other companies are focusing on in this area and what we can learn from them to attract and retain a higher proportion of female professionals," explains Sebastian Kubik, Head of Engagement, Diversity & Inclusion at Bühler AG.

STEM fields from a female perspective

To achieve this project goal, Alexandra Cloots and Sara Juen of IGD are conducting a quantitative online survey with female learners, students, and young professionals in STEM professions across Switzerland. The goal is to survey the needs and expectations of women who will be working in STEM fields in the future. In addition, interviews will be conducted with female employees of the participating companies and with female career starters. Based on the perspective of experienced female employees, it will be possible to determine which changes are necessary in the companies so that women want to stay in STEM professions in the long term. The needs of female career starters, experienced employees and career leavers are compared in an analysis.

More attractive jobs for female skilled workers

The results of this analysis are compared with the status quo of the participating companies. By examining which needs and expectations the companies already meet and which they do not, recommendations and measures are developed and implemented for and with the companies. The aim is to create more attractive jobs for female professionals. This goal is also being pursued by Denis Haramincic from Business Development at Liip AG: "We are confident that this research will enable us to identify new or different opportunities with which we can further optimize our framework conditions."

Recommendation catalog to support STEM companies

In addition, a recommendation catalog will be created with the project's cooperation partners. This catalog will be published and is intended to support STEM companies that are not involved in the project in meeting the challenge of the shortage of female skilled workers. As a so-called sounding board, the following cooperation partners support the project in terms of communication: <IT>rockt!, CCDI - Center for Diversity & Inclusion of the University of St. Gallen, Swissmem, SVIN - Swiss Association of Women Engineers, SATW Swiss TecLadies and Techface.