Metallurgy educational module of the STEM IS FEM project


According to a survey conducted by the United Nations Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme in 2020, nearly 60% of Ukrainian people believe that our society has occupational segregation by gender. 


The Gender Gaps in the Labour Market study shows that the proportion of female professionals in physics, mathematics and engineering was three times lower than that of male in 2018, with only 22-24% of women in STEM jobs. At the same time, Ukrainian girls outperform boys in maths by 8.6 points as Vox Ukraine’s analysis of the external independent testing results shows. Therefore, the lack of mathematical skills or interest in this subject cannot explain this gap. 


The proportion of girls and boys enrolled in universities was about the same in 2020. Yet, fewer girls chose STEM fields.


Today, women account for over 30% of jobs at Metinvest Group. Production automation and advanced technologies empower women to choose occupations that were previously considered men-dominated. 


The current gender gap in the Ukrainian market has partly resulted from women’s underrepresentation in STEM jobs. Gender stereotypes often affect career choices of schoolgirls. In our society there is a need to change the girls’ attitude to technical fields, particularly in metallurgy.



Metinvest works extensively to develop and support educational and training initiatives that encourage schoolchildren to study STEM subjects and choose technical specialties. The company seeks to promote STEM fields among girls, because they refuse to study exact and natural sciences at school, the statistics show.


To dispel stereotypes and show schoolgirls that mining and metallurgy have a place for female professionals, Metinvest has partnered with the STEM IS FEM project supported by UN Women Ukraine and UNICEF. 


The STEM IS FEM Metallurgy module is an educational project developed for Ukrainian schoolgirls. Under the project, girls take free training and immerse in tech specialties. The initiative seeks to encourage girls to choose a STEM field and reassure participants that they can reach the highest career developments and their gender will not be a barrier at all. In addition, the project strives to build a female professional community. 


The Metallurgy module had three stages:

  1. Competition announcement and participant selection

Participants were selected in a field-specific online testing. The girls had to answer the questions, and the jury assessed the depth of their knowledge and understanding of the mining and metallurgy sectors and their challenges, as well as their creativity and innovative approach to problem-solving.

Following the selection, 33 schoolgirls aged 11 to 17 from eight Ukrainian regions became participants of the project.


  1. Educational module

On 11-12 September 2021 in Zaporizhia, Ukrainian schoolgirls had a chance to attend the Metallurgy educational module of the STEM IS FEM project. The module was organized by Metinvest in partnership with Zaporizhia.Joint Action Platform NGO, and Good Idea NGO (creators of STEM IS FEM). Kryvyi Rih Foundation of the Future NGO and Kryvyi Rih City Development Institute were the partners of VR experience that offered a 3D tour around the industrial and production facilities.


The educational module included theory: lectures by Zaporizhia National University and Metinvest Polytechnic University; panels by female motivational speakers and industry experts; interactions with the audience. Practice-based studies included an introductory tour around Zaporizhstal steel plant with stops at a cutting-edge control room, hot-rolled production shop, and pickling line; Kryvyi Rih Industrial Weekend augmented reality tours; workshops and a tournament in themed board games. 


Over two days, the attendees were also working to invent a new metal alloy. 


The module had ten female speakers, including: Erika Kvapilova (Head of UN Women Ukraine), Anne Bercio (Trade Officer at Trade and Economic Section of EU Delegation to Ukraine), Yulia Dankova (CFO at Metinvest Group), and Tanja Beyer (Consul General of Germany). 


  1. Outcomes and incentives

All 33 participants presented their developments to the expert jury: ideas about possible metal alloys, description of their properties, characteristics, advantages, etc. 


Following the assessment of the presentations, the winner was announced and awarded with a laptop computer to help her broaden the horizons and expand knowledge, in particular in STEM disciplines.  Those in second and third place received bookstore gift certificates. All participants were given access to aт of online courses of their choice on the Coursera platform. The schoolgirls preferred the following courses: Data Science Math Skills, Digital Product Management: Modern Fundamentals, Management, Coding for Everyone: C and C++ , IT, TOEFL Preparation, Small Talk & Conversational Vocabulary, etc. 


Metinvest financed the Metallurgy module and helped with the project implementation. As the Group needs highly skilled staff for its companies, Metinvest’s female representatives:

– participated in the preliminary analysis to design and create the module concept;

– supervised the project implementation;

– coordinated the career choice elements of the module;

– organised a tour to Zaporizhstal for the module participants;

– acted as jury members to assess presentations of the participants in the final competition.

Moreover, female executives of the Group companies were speakers of the project. 


The project organisers faced a number of challenges: they had to synchronise the schedule of module speakers and handle the logistics to bring participants from different parts of Ukraine. They met all the challenges by engaging partnership organisations and other resources and providing coordination and support at the preparation stages.



“Gender must not play a role in your career choice. You must do what you love for a living. Look for support and keep developing. The more knowledgeable you become and the more like-minded people you connect with, the more confident you will feel”.

Yulia Dankova, Chief Financial Officer at Metinvest



The Metallurgy module in Zaporizhia has become the first on-site module in regions of the STEM IS FEM project. One of the most pressing issues in the Ukrainian society — gender equality in career choice of schoolgirls — has been brought up and explored during the event. The project also helped raise awareness of young female participants and their parents about the gender policy of Metinvest’s companies. 


The educational activities of the project were designed to break down career choice stereotypes. The goal was to help participants make career plans and take the next steps towards getting where they want to be. 


According to anonymous polls of the schoolgirls, 70% considered the visit to Zaporizhstal as an important element of the educational programme. Communication with female speakers was the most important element of the module, 60% of the participants said.


Quote of a participant:

“I see this project as a wonderful opportunity to learn more about metallurgy. We don’t have this opportunity at school. In fact, metal industry is not seen as a prestigious field, and, obviously, it is not seen as a profession for a girl. Still, I believe that women can work in all careers, in metals and mining in particular. I am interested in steelmaking as steel is one of the most widely used metals in the modern world, and we can’t imagine our modern life without steel. After school, I plan to pursue a career in IT, but I still believe that IT and metallurgy can supplement each other really well. In the modern world, different software and robots are essential for many manufacturing processes. This is a very interesting and promising field.”


Sophia Popeniuk, 15 years old, Lviv.


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