STEM Career Decision Age

Goals

To understand at what age or grade students decide to pursue a career in STEM.

Early Findings

Microsoft Study

This study was performed by Harris Interactive on behalf of Microsoft. The study interviewed students who were enrolled in college pursing a STEM career.
  • According to a study by Microsoft, 57% of students determine that they want to pursue a career in STEM in high school. Around 13% decide in middle/junior high school, 5% in elementary school, and 2% have always known. In contrast, about 20% reported that they decided while in college.
  • It should be noted that students who did not feel they were prepared in K-12 for STEM courses, were most likely to not choose a STEM career until college.
  • More than half of the respondents reported that a teacher or a class got them interested in STEM before college.
  • Factors that had the most influence on females in STEM were a teacher/class (68%), tv, books or movies (46%), visiting museums (40%), a parent or relative (39%), and games/toys (29%).
  • Factors that had the most influence on males in STEM were games/toys (61%), tv, books, or movies (55%), a teacher/class (51%), a parent or relative (34%), and visiting museums (28%).

Fidelity/NY Life

Fidelity and New York Life conduct a biennial study of children under the age of 12, asking what they want to be when they grow up. The last published report was in 2017.
  • In 2017, 56.6% of females chose STEM related careers compared to 43.3% of males. In 2015, STEM careers were chosen by 41% of females and 32% male. This increase in an interest in STEM careers seems to reflect the emphasis by parents and educators on STEM over recent years.
  • Of all the children who chose doctor as their desired profession, 80% were female.
  • The top influencers driving the choices of the children were TV/YouTube/Movies, personal passion, and parents.

Proposed next steps:

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