Factors Influencing Student STEM Career Choices: Gender Differences
This study examined factors that influence middle school students’ dispositions towards science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers. Interest and ability in STEM subject areas were compared by gender, based on 182 middle school students’ responses to four different test instruments. While findings from t-tests indicated significant differences between males and females on mathematics interest scores, no significant differences were found in science, technology, engineering, or STEM career interest. Stepwise multiple regression showed that STEM variables explained 47% of the variance in boys pursuing a STEM career and 36% of the variance in girls. The findings of this study underscore the challenges that still exist in achieving equal gender representation in the STEM workforce, and suggest that adopting a constructivist learning approach may provide a foundation for girls to develop a more positive approach toward science, boost STEM awareness and interest, and increase STEM success.