Why Not STEM? A Study Case on the Influence of Gender Factors on Students’ Higher Education Choice
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STEMGender gap in STEMEngineering perceptionHigh school educationWomen in science
de las Cuevas, P.; García-Arenas, M.; Rico, N. Why Not STEM? A Study Case on the Influence of Gender Factors on Students’ Higher Education Choice. Mathematics 2022, 10, 239. [https://doi.org/10.3390/math10020239]
SponsorshipJunta de Andalucia FQM-147; Spanish Government TIN2017-85727-C4-2-P
The gender gap in STEM-related job positions is a fact, and it is closely related to the low percentage of women studying STEM degrees. This poses a problem because Europe, as well as the United States and the rest of the developed countries, keep demanding the best engineers and scientists to continue developing innovative products. This problem can thus be approached by answering, firstly, the following question: Why are women not studying STEM degrees? In this paper, we summarize the factors, found in literature, that influence students—both boys and girls—to not study STEM, particularly engineering, computer sciences and technology. We study these influence factors in a sample of N = 338 students from a secondary school placed in the south of Spain; we carry out a survey in order to find out if those students fill out the same answers other researchers have found and published in the related literature. Our main conclusions are as follows: The results confirm that the number of women in technical courses decreases when the level of the course increases; the lack of role models is not an impediment for girls to feel comfortable; unlike boys, girls will not choose engineering, even if their scoring in STEM is good; and we found that girls and women see themselves as not capable of studying an engineering degree more than boys and men do. These results contribute to a deeper understanding of the situation regarding the gender gap in STEM fields in ages in which both girls and boys must choose their future studies.