Highlight Symposium: The European perspective of HRD

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Subject Gender specific key qualifications for working life (Gerald Heidegger)
Outline This is based on a project within the Fifth Framework Programme which is called 'gender and qualifications: transcending gender features of key qualifications for improving options for career choice and enhancing human resource potential' (GENDERQUAL). The last word was I think the reason why we have been invited here. For the project the idea is that there is a dialectical relationship between improving individual options for career choice on the one hand and enhancing human resource potential on the other. Because we think that if everybody has improved chances of career choice then also the societal human resource potential will be improved. 
     The idea of the GENDERQUAL project is not to pretend the so-called sameness, that quality means sameness, that men and women are the same, or that they should be treated equally. We have generated, I'm not sure whether it was us, we use at least the term 'gender autonomy', which is directly related to this idea of improving individual options for career choice. In our project we research into the fields of electricians, a so-called male dominated occupation; nursery nurses is a female dominated occupation; and bakers or waitresses is a more mixed occupation. The idea is not that there should be equal numbers of men and women, but the idea is gender autonomy, that a woman who wants to become an electrician should not be hindered so much as she is nowadays. And to come back to the theme of our workshop here, it is thought that this will also improve human resource potential because it puts the right people at the right place.
     A second aspect is that this is not a project just about women and the improvement of their chances. We are working on an intermediate level of qualifications, and at least at the lower level it is nowadays the men who have sometimes less chances. This is because young women are doing better at school, as you know, and hard manual labour is almost disappearing, which was the type of working place for low-achieving young males. So we are thinking implicitly about how to open up new career opportunities for men which had been closed to them, often by way of stigmatisation, a mixture of self-stigmatisation and stigmatisation by others. A typical example are men in the occupation of nursery nurses: they themselves feel a little bit strange sometimes, but also their female colleagues find it sometimes a bit strange that they are there. 
Reference Thesis: included in Manning 2002a; paper: Heidegger et al. 2002 (including gender aspects of learning and acquiring qualifications)
Source Recording of the symposium
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Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO