Interview with Rosa Maria Saraiva

Organisation responsible for the interview: University of Aveiro

Country: Portugal

Occupation: PhD candidate in Feminist Studies at the Faculty of Letters at the University of Coimbra – Portugal

Small Bio/CV: She has a degree in Pedagogy from the Federal University of Pará (Brazil). She worked as a teacher in the Education Department of the UNIAGES University Center. She has worked as a teacher in Higher Education, teaching subjects in the degree courses in the colleges of Pedagogy, Mathematics, Languages, Biological Sciences, Geography, Chemistry, Physics, History, Law and Engineering.

Other info:

Date of the interview: 11.05.2023

Short summary of the interview

Career guidance:

The job of a pedagogue is to carry out educational guidance for her students. For example, when a student finishes their studies, they often do not know what career to follow.

In view of this, vocational tests are carried out to verify the student’s affinity with a certain professional area, and to identify their aptitudes. The purpose of the vocational test is to prepare the student for his/her professional future. After that, we are able to make a career direction.

Unfortunately, our educational base is not able to offer this resource to the student.

Generally, when young people come to me for counselling, many of them have not defined “what they want”, they come to me with many doubts regarding their professional choice. Generally it is a percentage of 70 to 30, where 70% of the students do not have this direction. On the other hand, 30% of the students know the path to follow.

In most cases, young people prefer to choose careers that are easier and quicker to earn money, so they prefer careers that offer better financial resources. For example, areas of exact sciences and technologies, as these are professions where the labour market is more receptive. This scenario reflects the influences we are currently experiencing, with the evolution of the internet.

I notice that students are less and less interested in the area of education, as they find the profession undervalued in the market, where it does not present values at economic and social levels.

It is noted that students with greater economic conditions, prefer to choose careers that have a better financial return.


Social and economic influence directs career trends. The main factor that young people take into consideration is financial, followed by personal satisfaction.

Parents play an important role in their children’s career decision making, but it is generally not a determining factor. Nowadays, this does not apply with reality. Generally, this decision is more the young person’s.

Sometimes parents may direct their children towards a certain area/career, but many times the child doesn’t identify with the career they indicate, and they choose not to follow it. On the other hand, some cases it is noted that children follow the career of their parents, or due to an investment that they have made for their career. For example, following the career of a doctor, there is a social and financial status behind this decision.  I believe that this phase/generation has passed. Today people seek to follow the career they most identify with and feel pleasure in, mainly in a personal and economic sense.

Socio-cultural differences:

This social issue is very correlated to the career decision making of young people, as it depends a lot on the cultural context, where the young person comes from, he brings this deep-rooted with him. Sometimes this separation is very difficult, because he has such a strong influence within him that he ends up having more influence with social issues, even more than economic ones.

The doubt that young people face when making decisions regarding their professional career is something natural, due to biological, sociological and social factors. And the level of maturity for this decision comes with time. In this way, young people need all these elements together to be able to have this direction with more clarity and security.

Gender discrimination in professions:

In my counseling, I have directed more women than men. Usually the orientations are according to the students’ aptitudes. In one room, I had 60 women and 20 men. In engineering and mathematics classes there were more men. But as I oriented more the humanities areas for teacher training, there were more women than men. In the humanities area, in a class with 90 students, only 5 are men. On the other hand, in mathematics classes, there was a class of 70 students and only 10 were women. So, it depends a lot on which course you are in.

I see prejudice in society towards some professions. Some students, in higher education teacher training, reported that they felt difficulties in being hired because they were men. Because the stereotype of society in thinking that it is easier to have a woman in the classroom, teaching children/young people, than a man. And that is a gender bias, within the social context, not a personal/individual bias, but a bias of the school itself in hiring men to teach certain subjects.

I’ve heard many reports regarding mistaken stereotypes, such as “men have more strength”, “men can do more things than women”, being characterized as the “fragile sex”. These issues still have a lot to progress within our society. And this work and awareness-raising begins in family and school education.

Stereotypes are socially constructed, and with my experience in Portugal, I have the perception that this clearly exists and can be felt more closely on a daily basis than one might imagine. The professions are open to all genders. We have to break this “taboo”, and the more people talk about it, the more we can work on it socially, in the broader context of the discussion.

Statements of utmost importance – top statements/ information

“The socially constructed stereotypes, and with my experience in Portugal, I have the perception that this clearly exists and can be perceived closely in everyday life, more than one can imagine. The professions are open to all genders. We have to break this “taboo”, and the more people talk about it, the more we can work on it socially, in the broader context of the discussion”