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Report Finds Distinct Gender Gap in College and Career Readiness

A new report from college and career readiness company YouScience reveals that while 44% of female high school students showed aptitude for careers in architecture and engineering, they showed 0% interest in them when interest-based, instead of aptitude-based, tools were used to gauge student talents, abilities, and pathways. The “Post Graduation Readiness Report Part II” offers insights from a survey of more than 500 recently graduated students about how prepared they felt they were for careers beyond high school. 

“Interest-based tools reflect primarily what the student already knows, while aptitude measures surface known and unknown talents that are less recognized and can surprise students, teachers, and parents,” YouScience said in its report, “Career Insights: Women, STEM, and the Talent Shortage.” Researchers also noted that because female students are not encouraged to consider engineering and technology careers, lack of knowledge in these choices translates to lack of interest.

Part I of the college readiness report, released in November 2022, showed that 75% of all graduates were not ready to make college and career decisions, even though graduation rates were up to 86%. Of those, 57% reported five or fewer conversations with teachers or counselors about opportunities following graduation, and 80% felt they “would have been more engaged in their learning if they better understood their own aptitudes and potential career opportunities.”

Key findings from Part II of the report revealed:

  • Sixty percent of female high school graduates reported not being exposed to a wide enough variety of options for college and career versus less than 30% of males.
  • More male graduates (78%) also reported having a conversation with a teacher or school counselor about post-high school opportunities than female graduates (63%).
  • Forty-five percent of males feel that they are in a job that they like or that is putting them on a good career path compared to 27% of females.
  • Sixty-eight percent of males are where they want to be in their education or career path compared to 57% of females.
  • Only 50% of females reported knowing that CTE (career technical education) courses were available versus 70% of males that were aware of them.

“This signals the importance to work collectively to reduce gaps and expose students to more career pathways,” YouScience noted in the executive summary. In the “Career Insights” report, the company said, “Women have the natural talent for today’s in-demand STEM jobs…. Female students have a high aptitude for technology careers.”

YouScience currently serves over 7,000 educational and career institutions and provides an integrated college and career readiness platform that delivers aptitude-based assessments, personalized career guidance, and industry-recognized certifications, based on research and industry input. For more information, visit the YouScience site.

About the Author

Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.

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