Mexican, Indian Students Hungrier for STEM

According to a new survey, a high percentage of students in India and Mexico want to enter STEM.

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Are America's students interested in STEM? According to the Lenovo Global Student Science and Technology Outlook, released November 17, they are—but students in countries such as Mexico, India, and Russia are hungrier to enter a career in a STEM field.

About 54 percent of students said they plan to pursue a career in STEM, according to a survey of 800 American students between the ages of 14 and 22. Similar surveys in other countries found higher levels of interest: In India, 62 percent of students say they want to work in a STEM discipline and in Mexico, 69 percent of students said they would enter a STEM field. The United States did outpace the United Kingdom (46 percent) and Japan (35 percent).

The survey comes as part of the YouTube Space Lab contest that will launch a student's project to the International Space Station next spring.

Some other interesting findings from the study:

  • A majority of students in India (68 percent), Japan (61 percent), and Russia (57 percent) see STEM careers as being primarily for men, a view held by 30 percent of students in the United States and Mexico, and 36 percent of students in the United Kingdom.
  • In the United States, 24 percent of students said Albert Einstein was the most inspiring science figure; 16 percent named either Thomas Edison or Steve Jobs.
  • Despite what Peter Diamandis and Dean Kamen recently told me, American students insist celebrities have little impact in shaping their career path. Just 1 percent of students said they are most influenced by celebrities. Most influential? Parents and teachers—just over a quarter of students said their teachers play the most influential role, the same percentage who said their parents do.
  • American students aren't sure whether there are more students pursuing a career in STEM or not: 37 percent said the number is increasing, 36 percent said it is decreasing, and 28 percent said it was staying the same. In India, more than half said the number is increasing.
  • Two thirds of American students said they perceive that there is a lack of scientists in the country. In Mexico, that number is 92 percent, and in Russia it's 89 percent.
  • Sixty one percent of American students said science is more valuable to society than the arts. In Mexico, 82 percent of students believe science is more important, in India, 74 percent of students share the belief. The most artsy? Russia—57 percent of respondents said the arts are more valuable than science, the only country surveyed whose students feel that way.
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