Survey: Teen Girls’ Interest in STEM Careers Declines
New Survey by Junior Achievement Asks Teens about Career and Job Goals
A new survey by Junior Achievement (JA) conducted by the research group Engine shows that only 9 percent of girls between ages of 13 and 17 are interested in careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). This is down from 11 percent from a similar survey in 2018. Teen boys' interest in STEM careers increased slightly to 27 percent, up from 24 percent in 2018. The survey of 1,004 teens was conducted from April 16 to 21, 2019.
"The decline of interest in STEM careers is disappointing given how much emphasis is being placed on promoting STEM to girls," said Jack Kosakowski, President and CEO of Junior Achievement USA. "One element that may need to be emphasized more is ensuring that STEM professionals are serving as role models and working with girls in educational settings as part of these initiatives."
A 2009 study from MIT indicates that young people are interested in STEM at an early age, but begin to lose interest as they become older due to a lack of interaction with mentors and role models in the STEM fields. A way Junior Achievement is addressing this is by bringing STEM professionals into classrooms to deliver the organization's career-readiness programs. Research shows that one-in-five Junior Achievement alumni eventually work in the same field as their JA volunteer.
Other findings from the survey include:
- 85 percent of teens say they know what kind of job they want after graduation, down slightly from 88 percent in 2018.
- While girls' interest in STEM careers like engineering, robotics and computer science declined, their interest in careers in the medical and dental fields increased to 25 percent, up from 19 percent in 2018.
- Half of all teens (51%) expect to work this summer. However, more than two-thirds of 16- and 17-year-olds (69%) expect to have a summer job.
- Top summer jobs include retail (26%) and food service (26%). These are followed by outdoor work (17%) and babysitting/child care (14%). Very few (5%) anticipate working in an office over the summer.
Junior Achievement delivers programs focused on promoting work-readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy to students in grades K through 12. JA's programs help teens better understand the connection between what they learn in school and how it will apply toward their future career goals.
This report presents the findings of a Youth CARAVAN survey conducted by Engine among a sample of 1,004 13-17-year olds, comprising of 502 males and 502 females. This survey was live on April 16-21, 2019.
Respondents for this survey are selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. Because the sample is based on those who initially self-selected for participation, no estimates of sampling error can be calculated. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options.
Amy Kneesey, Vice Chairman of the Brevard County School Board
"It’s a way to expand our curriculum without having to put out more resources. That’s a win for everyone."
Beth Westfall, Assistant Principal West Side Elementary School
"JA is relevant to my school, more so now than ever."
Hilah R. Mercer, Principal Cambridge Elementary Magnet School
"Junior Achievement is an outstanding, motivating program for our elementary students. Several of [our teachers] had JA volunteers last year and all had great praise for the program"
Michael Johnson, PhD, UCF Professor, College of Education
"I have long believed that this JA experience is so valuable for our UCF students and that actually it is a rare win for all experience, the UCF students, the school teachers, the school students, the UCF Education Profs, and the JA sponsors."
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