Girls try their hand at engineering: GEA held an open house for Girls’ Day – and showed perspectives for qualification and career opportunities for women in commercial and technical professions
26. aprile 2013 On April 25, 2013 GEA opened its gates for its Girls’ Day event. A guided tour through the GEA Technology Center and the shop floor, followed by individual work projects at technical learning stations: this is not something that girls can experience just any day. At its location in Bochum (Germany), GEA once again allowed 40 girls, from 10 to 15 years old, to learn a bit about the technical world of work, which was still unfamiliar to most of them. If something more than just one open-house comes of it, then all the better, says Ms. Nobue von Wurzbach. As Director of Corporate Organizational Development, Wurzbach is also responsible for promoting diversity in the composition of colleagues in her area. As she explained, “By offering Girls’ Day, we would like to give the participants a closer look at the machine construction sector and to show them new perspectives in our field that they perhaps would not have otherwise gained. Young women of today are well educated, but they are still very reluctant to select technical professions. And this means that they don’t take full advantage of possibilities in profession and career. At the same time, companies like GEA – the largest machine builders in Germany – are earnestly looking for a new generation of young professionals.”
On Thursday, this year’s group of girls at the GEA plant in Bochum-Herne (Germany) first of all took a tour through the 6,300 m² production shop floor at the company GEA Maschinenkühltechnik, to give them practical insights. There they were explained the production sequences for finned-tube heat exchangers, watched the large machines in operation, and had a chance to pose questions. During the following tour through the GEA Air Treatment Technology Center, GEA staff showed the girls how their produced equipment, before being sold, went through tests for performance such as energy efficiency, output, and noise emissions. During the afternoon, the girls had a chance to put their own skills to work at technical learning stations. They used material scraps from heat exchanger production to make rings and chains and used patterns to make Mickey Mouse figures from copper sheeting and metal piping. At an IT learning station, they took PCs and laptops apart and took a good look at their insides. A new station this year was the electrical engineering point, at which the girls built little electric motors. They were given model kits with copper wire, batteries, wooden blocks, paper clips, and cables, and they were shown the exciting interplay of electrical current, magnetic fields, and their combination to produce useful forces. In addition, at the GEA plant in Monzingen (Germany), a group of girls also took a tour through the company GEA Renzmann & Grünewald GmbH to give them a good onsite look at the work of a machine-construction company. There, they learned how an order is executed, up to production on the shop floor. After a safety lecture, the girls took part in a quiz to get to know the company on their own – and afterward worked to make their own personal remembrance gifts from production materials. At the end of the day, all participants were able to direct questions to GEA about opportunities for professional qualification in the company. Caroline Masquelier, Coordinator of the Intra-Company Trainee Network in Bochum and Herne (Germany), said: “Companies that have successfully conducted Girls’ Day events have experienced a growing share of young women who work for them in technical and technically related professions. We as well have noticed increasing interest in girls for our training offerings. In view of the looming lack of well-qualified skilled colleagues, we take the trouble to arouse interest for mechanical engineering, especially among girls.”
In all of Germany, especially in technically oriented companies, firms conduct open house and open their doors for girls beginning in the fifth year of school. The girls get to know something about qualified professions and courses of study in engineering, IT, the trades, and science. Girls’ Day is the most extensive professionally-oriented project for schoolgirls. Since the beginning of this program in 2001, more than one million girls have taken part in these events, with more and more every year. In 2012 more than 115,000 girls got to know more about engineering and science, and over 9,500 companies and organizations were registered for the program.
The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research; the German Federal Ministry of Family, Senior Citizens, Women, and Youth; and the European Social Fund have all supported the Coordination Office for Girls’ Day throughout Germany.
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