Why do Dutch girls do not choose for science and engineering? a focus on gender stereotypes and a lack of female role models

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In The Netherlands, much stronger implicit and explicit gender stereotypes of science and engineering professions prevail than in other countries. Compared to 66 investigated nations, The Netherlands scores highest on gender-stereotypical images of science and engineering and lowest on influx of female students in STEM bachelors. To increase the number of students opting for science and engineering studies, many actions have been taken, one of which is the option to choose a Research and Design track at specific secondary schools (the O&O track at the Technasium schools). Although such efforts have resulted in a higher percentage of girls choosing a STEMoriented track in secondary school, still only 27% of the girls that start a BA university program enrolls in a STEM-study. Possible reasons for this may relate to the implicit and explicit gender-stereotypical attitudes that prevail in The Netherlands and to a lack of female STEM role models. In this paper, we present the results of a qualitative interview study with pupils and teachers from Research and Design tracks at different secondary schools in The Netherlands. Results show that even in the Research and Design tracks at secondary school, pupils and teachers seem to be unaware of the importance of explicating the low influx of female STEM students and its relation to implicit gender stereotypical images and a lack of female role models. As a consequence, very few female STEM role models are provided to pupils and little conscious effort is put into countering potential gender stereotypes and stimulating girls to choose for science and engineering.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEngaging, Engineering, Education
Subtitle of host publicationBook of Abstracts, SEFI 48th Annual Conference University of Twente (online), 20-24 September, 2020
EditorsJan van der Veen, Natascha van Hattum-Janssen, Hannu-Matti Järvinen, Tinne de Laet, Ineke ten Dam
Place of PublicationEnschede
PublisherUniversity of Twente
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)978-2-87352-020-5
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event48th SEFI Annual Conference on Engineering Education, SEFI 2020 - Online, Enschede, Netherlands
Duration: 20 Sept 202024 Sept 2020
Conference number: 48


Conference48th SEFI Annual Conference on Engineering Education, SEFI 2020
Abbreviated titleSEFI 2020
Internet address


  • Stereotypes
  • Attitudes
  • Education
  • Role models


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