– Perceptions of the social relevance of science positively and significantly predict female, but not male, students’ intentions to major in STEM (vs. non-STEM fields).
– Perceptions of relevance positively predict female students’ intentions to major in the biological
sciences, the physical sciences, and engineering, while male students’ intentions are not similarly
impacted. By contrast, positive perceptions of the relevance of science predict a modest increase in
interest in computer science for both boys and girls.
– Perceptions of social relevance are an important predictor of adolescent girls’ intentions to enter STEM postsecondary fields where women are currently well-represented (the biological sciences, and to a lesser extent, the physical sciences) as well as in engineering, a field that remains highly male-dominated.
– A majority of ninth-grade girls in their sample (54%, compared with 32% of boys) have already expressed a disinterest in pursuing any STEM major. Moreover, the gendered patterns regarding future intentions in specific STEM fields largely mirror current patterns of gender representation in postsecondary education at the national level as well as within the labor force.
– The authors did not find racial/ethnic differences in how social relevance predicted students’ STEM
* Differences in STEM interest by gender and beliefs.