Lenovo Study Says Our Students May Not Be Giving STEM High Priority

According to the results of the 2011 ‘Global Student Science and Technology Outlook’, a study conducted by Lenovo and Redshift Research, students in emerging countries – India, Mexico and Russia – are prioritizing and pursuing science-related careers over students in developed countries, including Canada, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S.

Key findings of the study:

Interest Varies by Nationality

  • Students in India ranked highest (82 per cent) for those who believe it’s very important for their country to lead the world in science, closely followed by students in Mexico and Russia (81 and 78 per cent, respectively). In contrast, students in the U.S., Japan, the U.K. and Canada trailed at 73, 61, 60 and 55 per cent, respectively.
  • When compared to the arts, students in Mexico (82 per cent) and India (74 per cent) topped the list, overwhelmingly saying that science is more important than fields such as literature, music and theatre. Russia was the only country where the majority of students (57 per cent) believed the arts were more valuable than science and technology compared with 37 per cent of respondents overall who answered similarly.

Shortage of Scientists Influences Career Choice

  • The contrast between students in emerging and developed countries becomes more obvious when students are asked if their country has enough scientists and whether this influences their career choice.
  • Most students around the world (73 per cent) agree there is a lack of scientists, and students in Mexico and Russia are especially aware of this (92 per cent and 89 per cent, respectively). Across all countries, this deficiency motivates 65 per cent of kids to pursue a science-related career. This motivation is highest in India (80 per cent) and Mexico (75 per cent) and Russia (55 per cent). Japanese students fall somewhere in the middle while students in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. have lower scores.

Pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering or Math
When it comes to who’s actually planning to pursue a STEM-related career, students in the three emerging countries rank highest. Mexico tops the list with 69 per cent of students saying they plan to pursue one, outpacing India’s 62 per cent and Russia’s 55 per cent. Just over half (54 per cent) of U.S. students have this opinion, while students in the U.K. and Japan trail significantly behind, with just 42 per cent and 35 per cent respectively answering similarly.

Aspirations to Change the World
Students consider other factors in their career choice. Of interest, most overall say that if they pursued a STEM-related career they hoped to change the world (35 per cent), with monetary factors ranking farther behind. Just 16 per cent of respondents overall say they would do it to get rich, while 34 per cent say they could attain both – with U.S. students saying this most frequently (45 per cent).

Removing Barriers & Inspiring Students
The findings reveal that while a vast majority of students say science is cool, only a slight majority responded that they intend to pursue a science/STEM-related career. The top reasons cited for those not pursuing this career type are a lack of confidence in their abilities and too much work/schooling required. Most students say they choose by middle school whether or not to pursue science and that their parents and teachers play a key role in shaping their decisions.

Survey Methodology
RedShift Research surveyed 4,800 students online between Oct. 28 and Nov. 1, 2011, in two categories: high school (14-17 years old) and full/part-time university students (18-22 years old). Overall, completed responses totaled 800 per country in the U.S., U.K. and Canada, and 600 per country in India, Japan, Mexico and Russia with conclusions and key observations noted at the 95 per cent level of confidence.


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