Researchers looked at what factors govern kids' decisions when choosing what kind of high school to attend. File photo.
Researchers looked at what factors govern kids' decisions when choosing what kind of high school to attend. File photo. Credit: Bertil Ericson / TT

Girls' low self-confidence in tech leads to skewed labor market: researcher

6:16 min

Despite Sweden's distinction as one of the most gender-equal countries in the world, researchers here are concerned that boys and girls are still being funneled into traditionally male or female dominated careers, because of decisions they make as teenagers about what kind of high school to attend.

High schools in Sweden focus on different subject areas, for example, some high schools specialize in social sciences, while others specialize in natural sciences, humanities, etc. This means that depending on which high school students choose to attend, it can impact which careers they're suited for later on. 

High school choices, in turn, have a lot to do with students' confidence in their own abilities, according to Una Tellhed, project leader for a group called Psychological Research on Gender Segregation at Lund University, and co-author of new paper on the subject, published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior. 

"If you feel that you have the ability to do something, you are more interested in pursuing that," Tellhed told Radio Sweden. "So it is unfortunate that young women still have competence doubts for male stereotypical domains."

"We still stereotype competence as more masculine and that men are more competent than women," she said. "This belief is still around here, and it affects young people still. Even in Sweden, which is supposed to be one of the most gender-equal countries in the world. And we were kind of sad to see that also the 15-year-old girls think that they are not good at technologies and computers, for instance."

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