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Study Finds Girls' Aptitude Far Exceeds Interest in STEM

There is a major gap between the aptitude of girls for STEM and their interest in pursuing STEM careers, according to review of data from more than 225,000 female middle and high school students. The data also revealed that girls' interest exceeds aptitude in some non-STEM disciplines.

Technology provider YouScience analyzed data from its Aptitude & Career Discovery assessment, comparing aptitude with self-reported interest. It found that in may STEM-related areas, girls' aptitude was high, while their interest was low.

Among those findings:

  • Girls' aptitude for careers in computers and technology was eight times their self-reported interest;

  • Aptitude for advanced manufacturing exceeded interest by 11.3 times;

  • Girls' interest in arts and media exceeded aptitude by 1.4 times;

  • Interest in teaching exceeded aptitude by 2.3 times;

  • Interest in law and public safety exceeded aptitude by 3.8 times; and

  • Interest in human services careers exceeded aptitude by 5.5 times.

According to the report: "These insights confirm that a career exposure gap exists for female students, especially in STEM — an area in which jobs are expected to increase by almost 11 percent by 2031. Historically, however, women have held less than one-third of those jobs. According to the United States Census Bureau, there were approximately 10 million workers in STEM occupations as of 2019, but only 27 percent of those were women."

"There is no question that more and more of our nation's jobs over the course of the next several years will be in STEM. However, there is a very important question we must ask about who will fill those jobs given that the career exposure gap remains among female students today," said Jeri Larsen, chief operating officer at YouScience, in a prepared statement. "To address this gap, ensure the pipeline of STEM jobs can be filled in the coming years, and provide female students with the same opportunities as their male counterparts, we must first show them that they have extraordinary potential. We need to do so as early as middle school, and then help guide them to pursue the pathways to the careers they are best suited for, in STEM or elsewhere."

Additional findings can be accessed in the complete report, which is available here.

In a 2022 analysis, YouScience found a similar gap between high school student (both male and female) aptitudes and career interests, across both STEM and other career areas. That report is available here.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .

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