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Stereotypes could be holding students back from embracing STEM courses

New research shows students biggest concern is fitting in at third-level.

Image: liverpoolhls via Flickr/Creative Commons

A NEW SURVEY has revealed students are most concerned about whether they will ‘fit in’ when deciding on what courses to study at third-level.

Science Foundation Ireland is concerned this could mean students are avoiding science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses simply due to stereotypes.

In the survey of 2,000 students by Amárach Research, 56% considered career prospects to be the most important factor.

This is compared to 62% being more concerned about fitting in.

Students were split on their view of STEM courses. Roughly half considered them to be either too difficult to require too much work.

Dr Ruth Freeman from SFI said: “We know that there are a number of stereotypes about STEM careers that may discourage a student from choosing these subjects for their Leaving Cert, or as part of the CAO.

The reality, however, is that there is no end to the variety of careers in areas like technology or science.

Freeman is calling on parents to ensure that when discussing students’ CAO options over the Christmas break STEM courses aren’t ruled out.

“Sometimes potential career routes aren’t as obvious to parents when thinking of science, technology, engineering or maths,” she said.

Read: Women now have 1.7 million more reasons to get involved in science >

Opinion: Will the push to encourage more science and technology graduates be worth it? >

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Nicky Ryan

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