Data Acquisition

Parents in STEM Fields May Influence Girls' Pursuit of Science Degrees

22 December 2017

According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan and the University of Arkansas, girls with one parent or guardian working in STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) are likelier to enroll in college degree programs such as math, computer science, engineering and architecture.

This trend, according to researchers, seems to be more common for girls than for boys.

"An important result is that most of the observed direct positive effects, of having a parent in STEM on the probability of enrolling 'hard science' college degrees, seem to be concentrated among females. This is in line with other work of mine and points to the potential benefit that role modeling could have on women," said Gema Zamarro, lead author and an associate professor at Arkansas. "Our results suggest that there are additional barriers — not only math performance or perceived math ability — that could be stopping women from entering STEM."

According to the research, having a parent working in a STEM field increased the chances of girls majoring in STEM-related subjects by 11 percentage points. And that number increased by 25 percentage points when researchers expanded the STEM definition to include life, social and physical sciences.

"STEM-related jobs are predicted to continue growing in the future years," Zamarro said. "Not only it is important for women to have access to these increasing opportunities, but having more women accessing hard science majors could help reduce gender wage gaps in the future."

For more on the study, click here.

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