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Why Aren’t More Kids Interested in Working in Science and Technology?

chefranden, Flickr

Millions of Americans may be out of work, but numerous surveys have shown lots of job opportunities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (dubbed STEM by the analysts) — so why aren’t more students considering them?

A new study indicates many kids feel getting into those professions would simply be “too challenging.”

In a survey of more than 700 sixth through twelfth graders conducted by ASQ, 67 percent were on the fence about STEM careers. About a quarter felt that the cost and difficulty of pursuing the necessary education was too high compared with other fields, while another quarter said STEM career paths were too challenging and would require too much studying.

This ties in with the 25 percent of teenagers who said their grades in math and science weren’t good enough to pursue a future career in STEM subjects — and more than half of parents in a similar survey were also worried about the challenges these fields presented to their children. What’s more, 26 percent of moms and dads felt that teachers weren’t preparing their children enough for possible STEM career paths.

That last point was also echoed by the students, but the gender differences were stark: 33 percent of girls felt their teachers weren’t preparing them enough for STEM careers, compared with just 9 percent of boys.

But the kids also felt there were plenty of job opportunities outside the science and technology fields. When asked which career fields they thought held the greatest promise, here’s what they listed:

  • Doctor – 34 percent
  • Engineer – 26 percent
  • Teacher – 19 percent
  • Lawyer – 17 percent
  • Entrepreneur – 16 percent
  • Sales and Marketing – 11 percent
  • Accountant – 11 percent

“It’s encouraging to see that more students see the value of STEM careers like engineering, but clearly STEM professionals and educators can be doing more to support students along this career path,” said Jim Rooney, ASQ chair and quality engineer with ABSG Consulting.


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