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STEM Analysis

Latest study provides statistics on gender gap and more

Most in the educational world will be familiar with the acronym ‘STEM’ by now. It stands for Science, Technology, Education, Mathematics. These areas of study refer to a wide range of applications in today’s workforce, many of which transcend demographics. However, recent analysis suggests that there is a significant gender gap in STEM careers. 

Among ‘Gen Zers’ (approximately those born after 1997) with regard to their interest in pursuing STEM careers, females appear far less interested than males, according to a Gallup/Walton Family Foundation poll: STEM Gender Gaps Significant Among Gen Z.

In its latest work with the Walton Family Foundation, [Gallup found] “a troubling gender gap between Gen Z men and women in their interest in pursuing careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math),” according to the poll, which contends that women make up approximately 34% of the STEM workforce as of 2023. “With all of the recent focus on the importance of topics such as AI and epigenetics, and their critical role in our future, it's particularly troubling to note just how much of a gender divide there is in viewing STEM as a pathway for a young person's future in the U.S.”

A majority of students (82%) say their school offered a variety of STEM classes for real-world applications in math and science principles, and 72% say they had opportunities to participate in STEM extracurriculars, but fewer have engaged in hands-on STEM classroom activities such as building an electrical circuit (29%) or using technology like coding programs or robots (42%), skills that underlie many STEM jobs. Only about a third of Gen Z high schoolers report having learned about core STEM-related topics, including 3D design (31%), cybersecurity (23%) and hydraulics (32%).

Gender disparities in STEM experiences may be creating barriers that deter girls and women in Gen Z from the field. Female members of Gen Z are less interested than their male counterparts in STEM fields (63% vs. 85%, respectively), and fewer females than males report learning about technical STEM concepts such as computer programming and coding in their coursework (39% vs. 54%). When asked why they are not interested in a STEM career, 57% of female respondents say they don’t think they would be good at it, compared with 38% of males.

“There have been significant, impactful investments in STEM education, but even more is needed to ensure students move beyond interest and actually explore careers in STEM,” said Stephanie Marken, Gallup partner and executive director for education research. “By creating programs that allow students the opportunity to explore, understand and apply core STEM concepts and to participate in hands-on learning, we can set youth up for successful careers in an industry that desperately needs them.”

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