Parental influence on child's science-career decision

Feb 21, 2010

Parental influence and access to mathematics courses are likely to guide students to careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics or medicine (STEMM), according to research from Michigan State University.

The findings of Jon Miller, MSU Hannah Professor of Integrative Studies, and colleagues were presented at a symposium titled "Tomorrow's Scientists and Engineers." at this year's meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The education of more researchers, engineers and others in the field of science is critical, said Miller.

"Failure to build and maintain a competitive scientific workforce in the decades ahead," Miller said, "will inevitably lead to a decline in the American standard of living."

Miller used data from the of American Youth, which kept track of nearly 6,000 from middle school through college, attempting to determine what led them to or guided them away from STEMM careers.

According to Miller, "The pathway to a STEMM career begins at home." He said this is especially true in families in which children were strongly encouraged to go to college.

"Only four percent of students who experienced low parent encouragement to attend college planned to enter a post-secondary program and major in a STEMM field," he said. "This compares to 41 percent of students whose parents strongly encouraged college attendance."

The research also found that sons were slightly more encouraged than daughters to do well in science and math.

Also influential, although not on the same level as parental encouragement, is the parents' . The research found that approximately 27 percent of the children of college graduates planned to major in a STEMM field, compared to 18 percent of parents with a high school diploma.

The research also reinforced the role mathematics plays in the pursuit of a STEMM career.

"Mathematics is a primary gateway to a STEMM career," Miller said, "beginning with algebra track placement in grades seven and eight, and continuing through high school and college calculus courses."

The researchers said and college science courses have "small, positive effects" on a student's decision to pursue a STEMM career, but is not at the level of mathematics.

Explore further: Precarious work schedules common among younger workers

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Precarious work schedules common among younger workers

Aug 29, 2014

One wish many workers may have this Labor Day is for more control and predictability of their work schedules. A new report finds that unpredictability is widespread in many workers' schedules—one reason ...

Girls got game

Aug 29, 2014

Debi Taylor has worked in everything from construction development to IT, and is well and truly socialised into male-dominated workplaces. So when she found herself the only female in her game development ...

Computer games give a boost to English

Aug 28, 2014

If you want to make a mark in the world of computer games you had better have a good English vocabulary. It has now also been scientifically proven that someone who is good at computer games has a larger ...

Saddam Hussein—a sincere dictator?

Aug 28, 2014

Are political speeches manipulative and strategic? They could be – when politicians say one thing in public, and privately believe something else, political scientists say. Saddam Hussein's legacy of recording private discussions ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ArtflDgr
1 / 5 (1) Feb 22, 2010
And whether they do or dont it will be their gender or race that will determine outcomes. especially if they are a high performer of the wrong kind of 'person' for the future.

i was bronx science working hard for such a career. however, wrong race, wrong gender... so was sidelined in favor of what they ahve now which is a 2 to 1 ratio.

which is fine, as the result is we no longer are a country or society of merit, but one of false gender/race aesthetics. reminds me of the countries my family fled from for a chance of better.

I still work on technology (and recent work is with some researchers helping them), but this is a far cry from what things could have been if it werent for 'social engineers' illegally experimenting in the circumstances of peoples lives as if they were their toys to be arranged to make the shelves look pretty.