Check Your Career: Johanna Werz explains online tool "CHEFIN"

Together with her team, Johanna Werz from the RWTH Chair of Information Management in Mechanical Engineering is developing an online tool in the CHEFIN project that supports students and young professionals from the mathematical, computer science, natural science and technical (MINT) fields on their career path. We asked her how CHEFIN can help with career planning.

Who is CHEFIN aimed at?

CHEFIN is a BMBF-funded project that my colleagues and I have been running together with the zhv at TU Dortmund University for two and a half years. Unfortunately, the number of women on German boards is still very low, below 10% for years. Studies show that female students in STEM subjects, even though they are just as good as their fellow students, consider themselves less competent and aspire less to leadership positions. There are many reasons for this: sexist stereotypes and outdated societal expectations, experiences that young women have, e.g. in their first job, a lack of role models and, and, and.

This is where the "check-your-career" tool that we are developing in CHEFIN should make a contribution. It is aimed at women from the STEM sector who are at the beginning of their careers. We want to encourage them to plan their career, at least in small steps, we want to give them tips for these next career steps and we want to encourage them to aspire to a leadership position.

How does the online tool you developed in CHEFIN work?

At, anyone and everyone (although the results are of course especially geared to the target group) can enter a few brief details about their own career to date. What did I study, what degree am I aiming for, what is my previous work experience, was I perhaps a group leader in the youth group, am I currently looking for a job? The tool then displays various tips to match the information in categories such as career planning, support options, role models, leadership. These tips are the results of the research that we have conducted within the framework of CHEFIN over the last two and a half years. I recommend that you just try it out. It really contains a lot of information: further links and lists, insights into career paths, tips from successful women, potential contacts, ...

On what data basis did you develop the tool?

We have conducted various studies, the results of which we process in the tool, which we want to give back to the target group, so to speak, with the tool. We started with focus group workshops, then our partners from TU Dortmund University conducted numerous interviews with successful women and men from the MINT sector. At the same time, we conducted data science analyses of 100,000 online CVs at the Chair of Information Management in search of factors that promote and hinder careers. And finally, assumptions and results were validated in an online survey with over 300 employees from the STEM sector. All results together with results from other studies have been incorporated into the tool.

In addition, my colleague is currently researching how we can use the 100,000 online CVs to derive recommendations for users of the tool, i.e. in the sense of "others with a similar profile have also learned this competence". But it's not that simple, because the data, i.e. the online CVs, are quite incomplete and very very different.

What advice do you have for potential users - based on the research results so far - for their application?

I see it quite positively: there is no such thing as the perfect CV, what matters is how one's own experiences are always presented in a way that fits in with job advertisements. Our research results clearly show this and our tool also supports you in this. Try it out at and leave feedback so that we can improve it further.

For more information on CHEFIN, contact Johanna Werz, M-Sc.

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