Survey: Why do women enter STEM?
Posted February 21, 2012on:
Is it a single childhood experience? A revered role model? How can we combine these experiences into the experience we are providing?
We surveyed 61 people, 44 of whom were women, between the ages of 18 and 59. The majority were engineers. We found respondents through posting to social media groups (Facebook and LinkedIn), sharing from our own accounts, and emailing old classmates.
We asked 6 questions. The first 4 were multiple choice and intended to collect general information (gender, age, field in STEM, and # parents in STEM). Surprisingly, more than half our respondents had neither parent involved in STEM and about a third had only their father in STEM.
The last two questions were intended to gather information about formative childhood experiences that pushed these people into STEM and the decision to stay in STEM in higher education.
We chose to focus on the answers from our female respondents. Some common themes/responses:
- Introduction to STEM by parents at very young age.
- Playing with their dads.
- Middle school and high school classes that they excelled in.
- School science competitions, museums
- Childhood curiosity got them hooked at a young age – connections to the real world.
- Provide STEM involved role models to the kids without parents or close family friends involved in STEM.
- Pursue involvement with schools. Target science classes and competitions and get higher female involvement.
- Provide the opportunity for more girls to have those discovery moments and experiences.