"When I tell people that I am training to be an industrial mechanic, everyone is very surprised at first. No matter whether it's among my friends or at work - most of them think it's really great, though," says Margit Täpper, who has been a SEEPEX trainee in Bottrop for nine months. For the company, one of the world's leading specialists in pump technology, equality and diversity in the working world are a matter of course. Nevertheless, there is still plenty of room here for female reinforcement in mechanical engineering. Margit Täpper and her colleague Tim Fischer are training ambassadors. They visit schools in the area, talk about their careers and try to arouse curiosity for technical professions.
Women and technology - the reality in the workplace still shows that, in purely statistical terms, these two have not yet become a dream team. The Federal Employment Agency speaks of only around eleven percent female trainees in the so-called MINT professions (mathematics, information technology, natural and engineering sciences and technology). Before Margit Täpper started her apprenticeship at SEEPEX, she was aware of the male-dominated field of mechanical engineering: "Honestly, I have admit that the prospect of learning in a still male-dominated profession as a woman made me hesitate a little at first. But my friends and family really motivated me to follow my interest in mechanical engineering." This interest didn't come from nowhere: "My father had and has a lot to do with technology in his free time. He works for an industrial company in Kirchhellen and my sister is now studying mechanical engineering. I looked at some other career paths, but the aspiration to challenge myself was not really there in other professions."
Her colleague Tim was also taken with technology at an early age: "I've always had a talent for crafts and came into contact with technical professions early on through my father. This paved the way, so to speak, for a corresponding apprenticeship as a cutting machine operator. Even as a schoolboy, I was interested in turning and milling components. Videos on YouTube were often my instruction manual. I will never forget the first time I milled my own component at SEEPEX or when I turned a cone for balancing car/motorcycle wheels at home, which was pretty cool."
Apprentices are highly appreciated
The two quickly found their feet at SEEPEX and praise the working atmosphere and working environment. "After all, it's important to start your apprenticeship at a large company where it's ensured that you can also finish it there," they say. "The climate is really outstanding and something special within the industry. What I particularly like is how much they value apprentices. The environment is always improving. It's not like old equipment that is no longer needed for production is 'used up' by the trainees. We recently got a new machine just for us: The trainees are highly valued here. The workshops and programs created especially for us are superb. SEEPEX takes training seriously and puts a lot of time and money into it."
Many young women are not interested in technical training
Margit has also been able to awaken interest in her profession among her friends. Unfortunately, she says, "most girls still don't consider doing a technical apprenticeship." Some may then miss out on important career prospects, as Margit's example proves. She likes what she does: "I really enjoy going to work. I'm only nine months into my apprenticeship now, but what I've already learned is insane. It's still a little way to the end of my apprenticeship, but I'd like to do further training as a technician so that I can then successfully complete the exam to become a trainer. That way I always have fresh knowledge to work with and can advance production with new ideas."
Tim also thinks it is a shame that so few women have taken the path to technical professions so far. "From a purely statistical point of view, it is clearly something special to have a female apprentice in a technical environment. But I think that should be normal and no longer a specialty. Here at our company, there are no differences in cooperation at all. Mutual help, understanding and camaraderie are what is most important."
In the future, SEEPEX would like to see more female apprentices in the technical, craft and IT fields. "We regularly have female interns in these areas and women have also been successfully trained here, for example as IT specialists or technical product designers. SEEPEX started training women in technical professions at an early stage. So all we can do here is once again encourage women to think about technology as a good career path," says Melanie Frank from the HR department.
Margit and Tim would like to motivate the next generation to take their first steps into the professional world with open eyes and to overcome any gender boundaries in their minds. Girls' and Boys' Day can help young people discover their interests and give them a taste of professions that they would not normally consider. Especially at a young age, it makes a lot of sense to gain insight into as many different professions as possible - regardless of whether this is a supposedly male or female domain.
Apprenticeship at SEEPEX
SEEPEX welcomes all genders (male, female, diverse) to its apprenticeship programs. These include industrial mechanics, mechatronics engineers, cutting machine operators, warehouse logistic specialists, industrial clerks, IT specialists for system integration or application development and technical product designers. SEEPEX is focused on the company's future; it believes in the importance of its junior staff. "There is a long tradition of training at SEEPEX. For many years, we have been successfully training our junior staff in various apprenticeship professions. Their high acceptance rates as well as good examination results prove the strength of our training system," Melanie Frank sums up. Five new trainees will start on August 1.
Career choices should be guided by individual interests, inclinations and strengths, not gender stereotypes. Girls’ and Boys' Days offer opportunities to learn about professions free of such reservations. Girls’ Day, for example, is an annual day designed to motivate girls and women to take up careers in IT, science, technology and crafts. SEEPEX offers schoolgirls from 5th grade and higher an opportunity to look at industrial-technical professions as a career option. The children get to know the company, activities and different professions on site on this special day.
Girls' Day has been held at SEEPEX for more than ten years. The day begins with a factory tour; there is a comprehensive look at production, including milling and turning the rotors in the CNC machines and assembling the progressive cavity pumps. Practical exercises in the training workshop, such as filing, scribing and center punching on various work pieces, as well as simulating pump assembly and disassembly via VR goggles, complete the program. Successful women at SEEPEX provide important information and insights into their everyday working lives. For these girls, it is worth pursuing one's own interests, regardless of the industry, professional field, activity or whether it is a supposedly female or male-dominated profession.