Research Shows Teen Girls' Interest in STEM Careers Continues to Lag Boys' InterestResearch Shows Teen Girls' Interest in STEM Careers Continues to Lag Boys' Interest

Junior Achievement & EY survey of 13-17 year olds shows teens are changing plans based on the economy; surprising 91 percent know their future field of study

Style Magazine Newswire | 6/13/2017, 9:59 a.m.
New research conducted on behalf of Junior Achievement and EY shows that a surprising 91 percent of teenage boys and ...

Houston, TX - New research conducted on behalf of Junior Achievement and EY shows that a surprising 91 percent of teenage boys and girls ages 13-17 know what kind of job they want after they graduate from high school. That’s where the similarities between boys and girls end.

The data shows that career preferences remain drawn along gender lines, with more than one-third (36%) of boys pursuing careers in STEM vs. only 11 percent of girls. Twenty-six percent of girls plan to study for careers in the arts (vs. 10% of boys) and girls favor careers in the medical/dental field 24 percent to just six percent of boys.

Both boys and girls want to engage in meaningful work, yet meaning is in the eye of the beholder. For boys, fun and financial stability are essential. Girls, on the other hand, want to help people.

What appeals most to each (top three answers, ranked):

Boys on their dream jobs: Think it would be fun (28%), I’d be good at it (21%), I’d make a lot of money (17%)

Girls on their dream jobs: I would help people (25%), I’d be good at it (23%), I think it would be fun (20%)

“While it’s encouraging to see teens today are giving a great deal of thought to their career aspirations, it’s surprising to learn that there are still significant gaps between boys’ and girls’ interest in careers choice. We hoped to learn that girls, for example, would be more attracted to STEM careers beyond medicine – related to science, engineering, computers and math - since there is virtually unlimited opportunity for talented and qualified professionals in these fields,” said Rick Franke, president of Junior Achievement of Southeast Texas. “Our research shows that one-in-five JA alumni works in the same field as the JA volunteer mentor they had in school. Because role models are critically important, we are placing greater emphasis on getting STEM professionals to volunteer for JA classes.”

Students Know Money Matters

Personal or family economics and the status of jobs in America are changing 52 percent of students’ college plans. Teens’ altered plans include, for example, expecting to work and go to college at the same time or to attend a less expensive state school or community college. And, 85 percent of teens expect to pay for some or all of their education, whether through loans, scholarships or jobs.

Knowing this, it is surprising that while about three-fourths (73%) of teens’ high schools offer resources to help kids understand the costs of school and training, only one in three (33%) of students takes advantage of those programs.

From Passion to Preparedness

The workplace aspirations that influence boys’ and girls’ choice of career also differ:

Ability to have a meaningful career and a family (52% of girls vs. 46% of boys)

Ability to do something meaningful for the community/society (45% of girls vs. 33% of boys)

Flexibility in work schedule/location (39% of boys vs. 36% of girls)

Professional advancement to become a leader/expert (29% of boys vs. 23% of girls)