MDH wants to inspire more girls to become engineers – joint initiative with Volvo CE and ORU
Research shows that girls risk losing their interest in technology at 11–12 years of age, unless their interest is stimulated. Mälardalen University (MDH), Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) and Örebro University (ORU) are currently combining forces to create a joint effort to get more girls to retain their interest in technology. Thanks to the Vera concept, girls in grades 4–6 at three schools in Eskilstuna and Hallsberg will get the opportunity to try out the engineering profession during class time.
“Through the Vera concept, we want to inspire young girls to pursue a career in technology, get more female students on our engineering programmes and more women in the engineering profession,” says Natalie Agerskans, Project Manager for the Vera concept at MDH.
“The majority of students who study engineering today are men, which makes the engineering profession male-dominated. As a result, many vital products are adapted to suit men. In order to create a better and sustainable future for everyone, it is important to capture all talents, both female and male,” says San Giliyana, Project Manager for the Vera concept at MDH.
Stimulate girls' interest in technology
The Vera concept is named after Vera Sandberg (Sweden's first female engineer) and aims to inspire young girls to become engineers. The concept was launched in 2019 in conjunction with the Vera Roadshow and is developed by MDH, Volvo CE and Ulrika Sultan, from Linköping University, who conducts research in girls' interest in technology and how their interest can be maintained up to adulthood. What is new for this year is that the concept will be carried out digitally and that ORU will also participate in the initiative together with MDH and Volvo CE. This year, nearly 70 middle school girls from Hammargärdet School and Lagersbergs School in Eskilstuna will participate, as well as girls from Östansjö School in Hallsberg.
“Over the four weeks that the girls participate in this year's version of the Vera concept, they will get to meet female role models through digital workshops, work on solving real problems for Volvo CE and learn more about the opportunities that come with the engineering profession,” says Natalie Agerskans.
Solve challenges facing Volvo CE
The girls who participate will get to meet researcher Ulrika Sultan, engineers at Volvo CE and engineering students from MDH and ORU. For four weeks, the girls will also work practically with six challenges facing Volvo CE, where the engineers and engineering students will act as a support function and as supervisors.
“It’s a good concept because it is a way to allow girls to test and demonstrate their knowledge of technology at an early stage, as well as to take their place in this type of teaching. In addition, it is a great way to connect with the business sector and with university. What I appreciate most is the clear content and that the students can supervise the pupils,” says Ulrika Bengtsson, teacher at Östansjö School.
Get access to the girls' solutions
At the same time as the Vera concept is carried out together with the girls at the participating schools, MDH also runs the Allan project – a similar concept for boys in the same classes, but with a focus on education and jobs in healthcare, nursing and welfare. On 10 May, this year's version of the Vera concept will finish with a digital event that is open to the public, where visitors can get access to Ulrika Sultan's research and the girls' final presentations.