STEM is not a four letter word

I referenced a survey by Lenovo in a recent post. In the post, I mentioned the top reasons U.S. students don’t go into a STEM career. Number one was a lack of confidence in their ability (33%) and second was too much work/school (29%). Ouch! These findings hurt! We scientists, as a community, are not doing a very good job getting the facts into the mainstream. This may be one reason for a lack of under represented demographics not pursuing careers in STEM.

One thing refreshing about the findings is observed when students are asked the most influential reason for pursuing a STEM career. For U.S. students, a tie for first place were teachers and parents/relatives. Third place was their own interests. Celebrities accounted for only 1% of the vote. Interestingly, most students who pursue a career in a STEM field make up their minds before college (11% elementary school, 45% middle school, and 29% high school). This indicates outreach early in a child’s education is a good investment of time and effort. Students rank forms of technology in terms of how much influence they have on their decision to pursue a STEM career. By far, most U.S. students indicate the computer as the most influential.

These data indicate perhaps one of the most important ways to reach students is through the use of websites and online resources. This way, students, who are already influenced by web resources, need more, up-to-date knowledge sources for learning and building confidence in what a scientist is and does as well as what it takes to have a career in a STEM field.

My most important goal is to find or create more resources for students. They need to know anyone can pursue a career in STEM. All you need is passion and desire.


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