STEM Interest Declining Among Teen Boys

STEM Interest Declining Among Teen Boys 

STEM interest is dwindling among boys. A recent survey found that just 24 percent of boys 13 to 17 years old expect to pursue a STEM career, down from 36 percent in 2017. However, interest among girls those ages has held steady year-over-year at 11 percent.

The results came out of a survey among a sample of 1,000 teenagers who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. This one was run earlier this year for a week and was conducted by Junior Achievement and Ernst & Young.

The same survey also found that desires for careers in the arts have also dropped for both genders, from 18 percent last year to 13 percent this year.

The career choices that have increased in popularly among this demographic include the medical and dental fields (up from 15 percent to 19 percent and especially popular among girls), along with public service (up from 7 percent to 10 percent). What those findings suggest, according to the researchers, is that kids are drawn to jobs that they will be "good at" and that "can help people."

The level of interest in starting a business or having a career in business stayed stable at 8 percent and 7 percent, respectively.

The biggest guidance for job direction comes from parents. In fact, their influence rose from 19 percent to 28 percent, whereas "societal" influences (including social media) shrank from 15 percent to 8 percent. Other sources for work inspiration included teachers, courses, volunteering and extra-curricular activities.

The share of teens expecting to take out a student loan to attend college has increased from 33 percent to 45 percent this year, and those who expect their families to cover the cost rose from 32 percent in 2017 to 43 percent. Fewer teens expect to attend school while working, down from 30 percent last year to 22 percent now. And the percentage of teens who have taken a financial readiness course has also dropped, from 33 percent to 28 percent.

"Teens today report they are leaning toward jobs that highlight their capabilities, as well as careers that offer altruistic outcomes," said Jack Kosakowski, head of Junior Achievement USA, in a prepared statement. "As parents, educators, mentors and counselors, we need to continue to give students the skills to become more proficient in the areas in which they need to advance and grow, as well as show them how all types of careers provide opportunities to benefit society."

At the same time, suggested Ernst & Young Partner Gary Kozlowski, now that this age group is "beginning to join the workforce, it may be time to help them "build and strengthen" their financial literacy, entrepreneurship and work readiness skills.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.