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About the Initiative Klischeefrei

The Initiative Klischeefrei [Cliché Free Initiative] is an alliance between representatives from the areas of education and training, policy making, business and research. It campaigns for career and study choices to be made free from gender stereotypes. Elke Büdenbender is patron of the initiative. This site provides details on the philosophy and organisation of the initiative and information about the partners involved.

Background

Occupations for girls, occupations for boys—surely these are outdated notions? Unfortunately not. Career choice is still determined by gender stereotypes. The aim is for young people to find their way into occupations which match their strengths and which they enjoy, free from any clichés and gender-based allocation.

Why is it important to avoid clichés?

Women and men continue to align themselves very differently on the training and labour market in Germany. This applies both to the training routes which girls and boys pursue and to the training occupations and higher education study subjects which they opt to enter. Young males are, for example, over-represented in dual training (60 percent). The same situation pertains in the case of young females in full-time school-based training (70 percent over-representation).

Both genders then continue to go in very different directions within the training route embarked upon. In company-based training, women and men are unequally distributed across the individual training areas. This is true of the public sector, but applies to an even greater extent to training in agriculture, in the craft trades, in the liberal professions and in housekeeping. Significant differences between the subjects chosen by young females and males are also revealed at vocational schools and at institutes of higher education.

Young people are likely to align their occupational choice decisions to traditional patterns. This means that the career spectrum available to them becomes limited. This causes repercussions at three levels.

  • Individual: Occupational self-realisation is an essential aspect of personal satisfaction and quality of life. Gender clichés restrict free development of the personality.
  • Economic: A competitive economy needs all of its young people to realise their abilities in the best possible way whilst also taking life plans into account. This enables all areas of growth potential within the economy to be exploited and makes a major contribution towards securing a supply of skilled workers.
  • Societal: Gender-sensitive career and study choices are made with a view to securing an independent livelihood throughout the course of life and allow women and men to participate in society on an equal footing.

The principle of cliché-free occupational and higher education choices

Young women and men gain an opportunity to move beyond gender boundaries and expand their career prospects solely on the basis of their individual strengths and talents.

Young people are supported in their selection of an occupation or of a programme of higher education study by all parties involved in the career choice process. This procedure begins with parents and early years education professionals and goes on to encompass schools, institutes of higher education, companies, institutions and vocational guidance services. A particular emphasis is placed on avoiding clichéd language and on providing gender-sensitive materials and services.

Partnership

Any legal entity that is involved in the career and study choice process may become a partner of the initiative. Organisations which enter into partnership create greater diversity in their institutions and companies by supporting a modern form of vocational orientation from which gender clichés are absent. Examples of partners include education and training institutes, research institutes, chambers of crafts and trades, institutes of higher education, nursery schools, local government bodies, schools, companies from various sectors, associations, federations and many more besides.

Organisation of the Cliché Free Initiative

The Permanent Forum of major stakeholders was formed into order to establish gender-sensitive career and study choice across the entire country. A Service Agency acts as the core body within the Cliché Free Initiative. Membership of the forum encompasses the relevant federal ministries, the Federal Employment Agency, the social partners and representatives from the federal state and from the fields of academic research, practice and trade and industry.

The Service Agency of the Cliché Free Initiative acts as a central point of contact to provide guidance and to facilitate networking between institutions and active participants. It prepares and edits information, such as measures which have been structured in a gender-sensitive manner, other materials and examples of successful practice, and makes these available free of charge on the klischee-frei.de portal. It also implements the specialist conferences that are staged by the Cliché Free Initiative.

The initiative’s Service Agency comprises an office based at a not-for-profit registered association called the Centre of Excellence for Technology, Diversity and Equality of Opportunity and an editorial department located at the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB). The Service Agency of the Cliché Free Initiative is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ).

The klischee-frei.de portal

The web-based portal supporting the initiative provides information and support on career and higher education choices without introducing restrictive prejudices. The website allows cliché-free occupational and higher education study orientation to take place by pooling information and practical advice for educational establishments, employers and parents too.