Microsoft announced the findings of two national surveys, conducted online by Harris Interactive, of college students currently pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) degrees and of parents of K–12 students. The goal of the surveys was to gain insight about what can better prepare and inspire students to pursue post-secondary education in STEM subjects.
The survey findings offer key insights behind the STEM skills shortage, including:
While most parents of K-12 students (93%) believe that STEM education should be a priority in the U.S., only half (49%) agree that it actually is a top priority for this country.
Nearly 4 in 5 STEM college students say that they decided to study STEM in high school or earlier, and parents say STEM interest begins at an early age. One in five students (21%) decides in middle school or earlier.
Male students are more likely to pursue STEM because they have always enjoyed games/toys, reading books, and/or participating in clubs that are focused on their chosen subject area. (51% vs. 35% females). Female students are more likely to say that they chose STEM to make a difference (49% vs. 34% males).
The motivation factors for boys and girls to become interested in STEM are very different. For boys, it’s primarily games and toys that led to a liking of STEM; for girls, it was a teacher or class. Schools should factor these differences into their STEM curriculum.