Career Aspirations of High School Males and Femailes in a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Program
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With the large number of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) jobs across the nation and state which are unfilled due to lack of interested and qualified STEM applicants, there is a need for more students to leave high school, enter college in STEM majors and continue through the STEM pipeline to STEM careers. The purpose of this study was to determine the degree to which high school students who participate in a STEM program from elementary through high school aspire to STEM careers compared to students with similar mathematics achievement who did not participate in the STEM program. Of particularly interest was the effect of the STEM program on female aspirations toward STEM careers. Career aspirations was self-reported one month before students graduated from high school on a school and graduates of the STEM program were compared to graduates with the same gender and a similar mathematics test score. The quantitative, retrospective study found that 58.75% of the students in the STEM program aspired to STEM careers after high school compared to only 40.00% of students with similar academic achievement that were not in the STEM program. Students in the STEM program were 0.47 times more likely to aspire to STEM careers compared to their peers who did not participate in the STEM program. The study also found that males in the STEM program were 0.35 times more likely and females in the STEM program were 1.0 times more likely to aspire to STEM careers than same gender students not in the STEM program. The effect on gender was not statistically significant due to the small number of females in the study; however, the data is important because females in the STEM program were twice as likely to aspire to STEM careers, in particular engineering. The STEM program effectively achieved one of its goals to increase student interest, especially females, in aspiring to STEM careers.