Press Release of 16 May 2012
GEA Girls’ Day: Young talents of tomorrow
In late April of this year, Boys’ and Girls’ Day was once again celebrated throughout Germany. These activities give boys and girls the chance for one day to get a taste of professional opportunities for young men and women. GEA also enables a large number of girls to have a look behind the scenes. The purpose of Girls’ Day at GEA was to especially arouse the interest of girls to learn technical professions and to study engineering courses – and to remove any existing preconceived notions of what young men and women could and should learn as a profession. After all, the technical professions are, now as before, still dominated by boys.
Beate Onishi, Head of Corporate Diversity Management at GEA Group, explains why GEA has regularly taken part in Girls’ Day for years now: “We at GEA would like to win over the greatest possible share of young talent. At present, the proportion of women in the technical field is not yet very great – which is the reason that we would like to systematically appeal to the young generation of women and to gain them for our technical professions.” Since 2011 Beate Onishi has been responsible for achieving a diverse composition of employees at GEA. Her objective is to sustainably establish and to promote an extensive diversity in human resources at GEA on the basis of criteria such as internationality, gender, age, educational background, and mobility.
At the beginning of the all-day event, the 29 girls, from 10 to 15, had the opportunity to tour GEA production facilities for finned-tube heat exchangers at the company GEA Maschinenkühltechnik. For many of the girls who took part, this was their first careful contact with industrial production. It became quickly apparent, however, that the pupils were not at all shy about becoming acquainted with the large machines on the large shop floor (6,300 m²). Accompanied by numerous trainees and by Caroline Masquelier, Coordinator of the GEA Training Network in Bochum and Herne, the girls next visited the Technology Center of GEA Air Treatment GmbH. There, the participants experienced how GEA tests its equipment before delivery, including such criteria as energy efficiency, performance, and noise emission.
In the second half of the day, the girls themselves were allowed to work with a few materials that they had seen earlier being used for the manufacture of heat exchangers. It was a special experience for the girls to use these materials to form little works of art. Olivia Nusswald enthusiastically said, “I think it’s exciting that we could make something here.” The girls used copper sheeting and metal pipes to make rings and chains as well as metal mice that – with their great big eyes and their general appearance – looked highly similar to a well-known mouse with its own TV program.
In addition to their work with GEA materials, the day’s program also gave the girls a chance for a closer look at computer hardware. Under close supervision, the girls took apart computers and laptops to get a good view of exactly what’s inside these machines. The supervisors took great care in their guidance of the girls here, since it was the objective of the exercise to put the PCs back together in good working condition.
“We have actively taken part in Girls’ Day for four years now, and during this time we have received a significantly increasingly number of applications from girls who want an internship with us in engineering fields,” said Caroline Masquelier. Melissa Postler (15) is a good example. She took part in Girls’ Day at GEA last year, and then immediately started an internship at GEA. She told us about it: “Although I’m a girl, it was great how the male colleagues made me feel part of the group at once.” Now she is absolutely set on studying engineering.
This year’s Girls’ Day at GEA was, by the way, organized by Lisa-Maria Brzeszniak, in her first year of training as IT Specialist in Application Development in the area of Power Engineering. “The planning in advance was a lot of fun for me, but actually taking part was even more,” she reports after her successful day. “If you can get girls interested in engineering, and when you see how excited they are to take part, then there’s no doubt that we’ve done everything right.”