Category: Project

Area: Stereotyping, Gender inequality

Place/Country: Denmark

Date: Ongoing Project, started in 2018.

Institutions involved:

  • Local Government Denmark (KL)
  • Trade Unions: 3F, Dansk El-Forbund, Dansk Metal, Malerforbundet, Blik&Rør


  • Fonds: Villum Fonden, Grundejernes Investeringsfond 
  • Business organisations: Dansk Industri, Dansk Industri Byggeri, Danske Maritime, TekniQ Arbejdsgivere, En Rigtig Maler. 
  • Vocational training: Byggeriets uddannelser, Industriens uddannelser, EVU

Target group: 

  • Young Women
  • Career Guidance Counsellors
  • Vocational schools
  • Place of employment/training

Goals / Objectives /Aims:

From project website:

Through our methods, we try to equip the individual young woman to dare to make the choice to be a norm breaker and go against the flow.

Through our methods, we also try to create changes in the culture that currently makes it challenging to be a young woman in the building, construction and installation industries.

Content / Structure / Description including strengthening action competence

Boss Ladies Ambassadors: The Boss Ladies Ambassador Corps, visit primary and secondary schools and vocational schools to give presentations and do exercises with students that challenge traditional educational choices. The corps consists of more than 300 young female craftswomen who are trained to give inspiring presentations and who are passionate about sharing their experiences of being part of the Danish building, construction and installation industry and in the maritime and technical professions.

Girl Boss Garage: In collaboration with the Log Ladies construction co-operative, girls from grades 4 to 9 are invited to participate in construction workshops where they can try their hand at crafts and express themselves creatively before choosing their secondary education. Girl Boss Garage takes place after school and is hosted at either a local vocational school or after-school clubs. Throughout the programme, students learn how to use different tools, are introduced to craft techniques, get a feel for the process of building a piece of furniture, and have the opportunity to learn more about different vocational pathways. Finally, they get to take home their very own product.

Learning Labs: Through a series of free training programmes for vocational school teachers and guidance counsellors, participants and Boss-ladies will work together to attract and retain more women in the building, construction and installation trades. A three-day programme has been designed, where the participants will be introduced to knowledge and exercises that can help them to support more young women’s motivation to apply for and stay in vocational schools’ building, construction and installation trades and in maritime and technical subjects. All programmes will conclude with the development of an action plan that can be implemented to ensure that more women become part of the Danish building, construction and installation industries.

Business alliance: Through strategic collaborations, Boss-ladies ensure that more women in the building, construction and installation industry, the maritime trades and the technical trades obtain a training agreement with a company and are matched with the right companies when they graduate. Boss Ladies works closely with companies and vocational schools throughout Denmark and ensures the well-being of our more than 320 female craftsmen from the collaborating companies who are part of the Boss Ladies Ambassador Corps.

Results / Responses → Resulting Competences:

Please refer to the summary of the evaluation report, for preliminary results in relation to the project’s aims.

Links are provided at the end. Materials are free of charge and are all in Danish.

Some of the relevant material produced by the project:

Guideline: “How to better counselling based on talent and interests – rather than gender”. Studies reveal that the gender stereotyping of young people’s educational choices is a major challenge, partly because counselling is often influenced by the gender of the young person, even to a much greater extent than counsellors themselves are aware of. Therefore, this guide contains key reflections and exercises that can challenge counsellors’ practice and ensure that the aim of broadening educational opportunities for young people is achieved regardless of their gender.

Programme: “The gendered choice of education and training”. There is nothing in Danish law that prevents you from taking the programme of study you want. Nevertheless, there are clear patterns in which programmes are chosen – especially when we look at the gender of young people. In fact, the Danish labour market is one of the most gender-segregated in the world. Girls and young women typically choose to study care, health, office and humanities, while boys and young men typically choose to study crafts, engineering, IT and natural sciences. The purpose of this educational programme is for pupils across the country to become aware of the conditions that underlie the gender-segregated labour market through their encounter with the Boss Ladies project and our ambassadors. With this knowledge in mind, it is our hope that students will have the best possible conditions for choosing an education programme based on their interests and talents, rather than letting their gender determine their future.

Video: “Why your prejudices limit you and how to break free from them”. A short introductory video on what bias is, and how it affects our brain and our day-to-day life.

Feedback / Evaluation of the practice:

From the evaluation report:

Overall, the evaluation indicates that the project is particularly successful in creating change at the individual level, i.e. for young women who are part of and/or considering entering the construction, civil engineering and installation sectors. At the same time, with the Boss Ladies project, Divérs (company behind the project) has succeeded in establishing a strong foundation for future cultural and structural changes in the industries, which is reflected, among other things, in a solid mobilisation around the gender equality agenda and issues among industry organisations and opinion leaders in particular. This is an impressive and noteworthy result – not least in the light of the gender equality challenges and the stagnation in the development of gender distribution that characterise the education programmes and sectors.

The project has not yet led to noticeable changes at the cultural level among vocational schools and in companies, but as radical cultural change requires both time and extensive resources, it cannot be expected within the current financial and time frame of the project. The main messages of the evaluation are summarised below.

The evaluation suggests that the Ambassador Corps in particular is creating, and has the potential to continue to create, change for women already in the industry, as well as girls and young women in primary school (‘this generation’ and ‘next generation’). The evaluation suggests that ambassadors, primary school students and primary school teachers find the Corps inspiring and motivating. For the ambassadors, the Boss Ladies project has particularly helped to build a community and network that allows them to seek advice, guidance and support in dealing with the challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated industry. The Boss Ladies project offers them an opportunity to reflect on each other and on their individual experiences from schools and companies, creating a sense of empowerment.

The changes at the cultural level relate to the project’s ambition to create cultural and attitudinal changes in the education system and the industries in order to strengthen the recruitment and retention of women in the building, construction and installation industries and to improve the well-being of the women who are in the professions. Here, the evaluation indicates that the project has so far only succeeded to a limited extent in creating changes at a structural and cultural level at vocational schools and in companies.

The overall analysis of the project’s communication efforts indicates that the project has largely succeeded in creating visibility and legitimacy about the need to recruit women to the industries and in raising awareness among industry organisations and politicians about gender issues in the industries. With the Boss Ladies project, Divérs has thus contributed to putting gender equality high on the agenda in industries where it has not previously been a salient issue.

However, many actors point out that it has not yet led to major cultural changes in the companies and the industry as a whole, even though Divérs, within and in light of the project’s financial and time frame, has largely succeeded in laying the first stepping stones for systemic change. However, there are still actors within the industry and in vocational schools who have a more traditional view and who are not necessarily convinced of the need for change. When this challenge is compared with the project’s activities, there is not a sufficient volume of activities aimed at companies and education programmes to create a radical cultural change.

Link to the source:

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