Skip to main content

16 March 2021

WorldSkills Champions Talk - gender inequality in skill development

Champions Trust representatives shared their experiences at the first-ever WorldSkills Champions Talk on Facebook Live.

How do skilled women and men #ChooseToChallenge gender stereotypes and bias? Champions Trust representatives shared their experiences at the first-ever WorldSkills Champions Talk on Facebook Live.

An aircraft maintenance engineer, an electronics technician, a 3D digital game artist, and an entrepreneur and florist - all representatives of the WorldSkills Champions Trust - discussed why skills have no gender on the first-ever WorldSkills Champions Talk on Facebook Live panel hosted by WorldSkills. The event was held in support of the theme of International Women’s Day 2021, #ChooseToChallenge.

Panellists shared their own experiences and views on what a gender-equal world means to them and answered questions from viewers.

Having a supportive and involving father, regional representative for Africa, Euphrasia Mulenga said that she was first confronted with how rooted gender expectations were when she decided on a career in the aeronautic industry.

“When I went to enrol in the course, some of the guys were indirectly pointing out that this is not a field for ladies,” she said. “After graduating, I noticed some companies would just not employ women. If they did, they would actually have them work in the planning section - which is where all the paperwork and the documentation is done - as opposed to having a hands-on experience.”

For Yousra Assali, WorldSkills Champions Trust representative for MENA, the more people tried to discourage her, the more determined she became to carry her passion of becoming an electrical technician through the end.

“After gaining expertise in the skill, I wondered why they categorize as a men’s job rather than a women’s job. It is just a matter of mindset and culture, not of abilities,” she said.

Female inclusion has become a hot topic in the gaming industry, “especially after the ‘Women in Games’ movement,” pointed out Dan McCabe, 3D Digital Game Art Champion from the United Kingdom.

“You think maybe girls aren’t really into games, but it can’t be further from the case. The mobile sector allows you to realize that it’s actually 50/50 split in terms of who is playing the games.” The games, however, continue to be created by men mostly. With three-fourths of the game artists, nine for every 10 developers being male, the sector continues to be biased towards men.

Regional representative for ASEAN and Oceania Amelia Addis, who was moderating the panel, explained how changing how she communicated her services as a wedding florist helped engage more grooms into the planning. “Because in New Zealand, floristry is such a female-dominated field, people get the assumption that my job is playing with flowers and it’s maybe not taken so seriously,” she said.

While reflecting on what can society, industry and educational institutions do to challenge and curve gender gaps, all panellists agreed on the importance of women’s representation in public and decision-making spaces.

Marketing and advertising have a great influence on people’s perceptions of what skills are accessible to either gender. “The people that you see in advertising is whom you relate too,” said Dan. “You cannot be what you cannot see,” added Euphrasia.

The lack of recognition of female achievements in technical fields, also helps deepen stereotypes.

“Its just because they haven’t seen enough leading women in the trade,” said Yousra, who chose to be her own reference in the electronics. “I was always thinking, if there is no woman role model, I will be the one. If no women have entered this field before, I will be the first one to be.”

Access and availability is important as well, as pointed out by Amelia, who believes that financial support or childcare should be considered if we want more women to join or retrain for skills.