Record number of female applicants for proTechnicale gap year

Scheme to increase share of women in STEM degree courses
28 October 2021

Women are still underrepresented in the STEM professions (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) despite the growing interest in technical subjects among school graduates, according to the latest application figures for the orientation year proTechnicale. A record number of female applicants had registered in 2021, according to the non-profit SOPHIA.T GmbH, which is responsible for the project. The number of interested women has increased by 74 per cent over the previous year. This year marks the eleventh orientation year, which is backed by the Ministry for Economics in Hamburg and diverse companies and foundations.

Increasing share of women in STEM degree courses

This year's proTechnicale cohort started on October 1, 2021 in Hamburg with 15 young women from all over Germany (see cover picture). The project based in Hamburg's ZAL TechCenter, one of the most innovative civil aviation research centres worldwide, aims to promote the students' technical skills and to boost their self-confidence, said Friederike Fechner, Project Manager.

Women still account for less than a third of students despite their rising numbers in STEM courses. "Our project definitely has a share in this positive trend. More than 90 per cent of our female graduates choose to study STEM subjects," Fechner said, adding: "Of course, we can't and don't want to rest on our laurels. We are still working on reaching even more young women with the programme."

Diverse curricula in gap year

According to proTechnicale, the participants' curricula includes mathematics and physics, technical drawing and computer-aided design, as well as self-reflection, rhetoric and both team and conflict management. The mix is supplemented by internships of several weeks in Germany and abroad, networking events and corporate speed dating. In July 2021, proTechnicale was named "Education Location of the Month" by the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft. The gap year strengthens the students and helps them navigate a largely male-dominated working world.

Series by Hamburg News: "Female AI"

Hamburg News shows how women gain a foothold in the artificial intelligence sector, which is still dominated by men, in our series "Female AI - four questions for women in AI":

Part 1: Artificial intelligence: Four questions to Ela Daniliuc, Synergeticon
Part 2: Artificial intelligence: Women gaining ground in key technology
Part 3: How startup co-founder Lena Weirauch is conquering the AI sector.