Career Exposure

YouScience Report: Female Juniors and Seniors Have Far More Aptitude Than Interest in STEM Fields

A new study of YouScience aptitude assessments completed by 116,372 female high school juniors and seniors across the nation shows that female students had 10 times more aptitude than interest in careers in architecture and engineering, and nearly four times more aptitude than interest for careers in computers and mathematics.

YouScience, a provider of aptitude assessments, personalized career guidance, and industry certifications, recently released its Career Insights: Women, STEM, and the Talent Shortage report showing a “career exposure gap” among female students in 11th and 12th grades, according to a news release.

The insights, based on data from the results of YouScience Discovery assessments, show that female students’ aptitude scores for STEM careers “far outweighed their self-defined interest in them,” YouScience said.

The low level of interest expressed in STEM careers is concerning given the projected growth in STEM-related jobs; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts STEM jobs will grow by at least 8% annually through 2029, as the number of non-STEM jobs grows at less than half that pace.

Women already are vastly underrepresented in STEM fields, except for the healthcare sector, according to a 2021 Pew Research Center analysis of labor statistics. “Women make up a large majority of all workers in health-related jobs, but remain underrepresented in other job clusters, such as the physical sciences, computing, and engineering,” the Pew Research study said. “Current trends in STEM degree attainment appear unlikely to substantially narrow these gaps.”

Key Findings from Female Students' Aptitude Assessments

  • Female students had 31 times more aptitude than interest for careers in installation, maintenance, and repair across numerous industries such as computers, automotive, telecommunications, and others.
  • They had nearly 13 times more aptitude than interest for careers in production industries such as aviation, food processing, electrical, among others.
  • They had twice as much interest than aptitude for careers in arts, design, and entertainment.
  • They had almost three times more interest than aptitude for careers in life and social sciences.
  • They had 10 times more interest than aptitude for careers in the legal field.

Providing students early career exposure in key industries and providing insights as to where their natural talents lie can help reduce or eliminate the country's talent shortage. Self-bias and traditional career exposure through family, friends and media often limit student's, especially women's, perception and knowledge of potential college and career pathways.

“It's time to reimagine what careers women can pursue, and that starts in middle and high school,” said Jeri Larsen, chief operating officer at YouScience. “Our research shows today's young women have what it takes to be successful in a wide range of careers, but are not being guided to these careers.”

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About the Author

Kristal Kuykendall is editor, 1105 Media Education Group. She can be reached at [email protected].