Three Questions to Leading House Alumnus Dr. Simon Janssen

Question No. 1: Can you briefly summarize the research questions you were working on while in the Leading House?

I studied how occupational content influences the careers, job choices, and satisfaction of workers. In addition I analyzed the relationship between different wage bargaining systems and the individual costs associated with a job loss, i.e. wage losses and unemployment.


Question No. 2: What is the main conclusion of your research for practice and/or for future research?

Let me take just two examples.

Firstly, one of my papers finds that women who work in jobs that contain many tasks that are associated with masculine stereotypes, such as IT, or mathematics, are less satisfied with their work climate than women who work in jobs that contain tasks that are associated with female stereotypes. However, women in stereotype male jobs appear to be much more satisfied with their earnings. In total this leads to women in stereotype male and female jobs to be equally satisfied with their jobs in general. 

In contrast, men in male jobs are more satisfied with their work climate and with their earnings. An interesting question for future research would be to figure out whether occupational image campaigns, such as “girls day” or “” are able to change such stereotypes, and whether they lead women to not only choose different types of jobs but also better identify with these jobs.

For more information see: Backes-Gellner, Uschi; Janssen, Simon (2016): Occupational stereotypes and gender-specific job satisfaction. In: Industrial Relations, Vol. 55, No. 1, S. 71-91.

Secondly, another of my papers analyzes whether and how reforms of apprenticeship training curricula affect the careers of apprenticeship graduates in the long run. We find substantial and long-lasting effects on careers. Young workers who were trained according to up-dated training curricula have better career perspectives than similar workers who were trained according to unrevised, i.e. more outdated training curricula. Graduates who learned to handle the newest technologies according to the up-dated training curricula earn higher wages in comparison to the control group and are later on more likely to become master craftsmen or technicians.

Consequently, for practical training matters, the results uncover a strong necessity of further training programs to update and maintain the skills of those who have been trained under outdated training curricula.


Question No. 3: If you would choose only one piece of advice to give to students and/or doctoral students, who have their first day at university, what would you tell them?

I would advise young PhD students to put a lot of effort in finding a topic that is novel and interesting, before wasting a lot of time and energy for something that is of little interest to the research community.  As most young scholars lack the experience to identify important and promising research topics, the advise of a supervisor can be most helpful at this stage of the thesis. However, I would also recommend young PhD students to follow their own interests as closely as possible, because it is very hard to work on a topic for many years without having passion for it, even if the research is promising.