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Becoming a Scientist—Career Choice Characteristics

Abstract

Decisions related to career choice are influenced by person’s interactions with his or her environment. The purpose of this study was to examine the characteristics of a STEM (Science-Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) career choice. The study included two stages in which two different questionnaires were used. The purpose of the first questionnaire, which was replied by 1162 people, was to examine their attitudes towards STEM, and their sense of employment capability in this field. The data were analyzed according to three age groups: 12th graders, young adults aged 21–35, and adults over the age of 35. The second stage focused on three sub-groups: young high school graduates with a high affinity to STEM studies, whom have not yet chosen career; adults who have chosen career as researchers in the STEM field; and adults who have chosen career as researchers in the social sciences and humanities. The second questionnaire examined environmental characteristics and attitudes towards the factors potentially influencing a career choice in STEM. The results indicate that the attitudes towards STEM and the sense of employment capability in this field become significantly more positive with age. The number of family members who have a STEM career was not found to be a significant factor influencing a career choice; however, a significant correlation was found between high school major and the career chosen by graduates. The research findings point to important trends that shed light on the process of choosing a career in STEM and concludes that young people’s interest in science during school is a key variable to sparking interest in science careers.

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Fig. 1

Notes

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    In Israel, students choose specialization subjects (usually 2–3) in the 10th grade. These subjects are taught parallel to common core mandatory subjects.

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Funding

This study was funded by the Milgrom Foundation, University of Chicago.

Author information

Correspondence to Irit Sasson.

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Sasson, I. Becoming a Scientist—Career Choice Characteristics. Int J of Sci and Math Educ (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10763-020-10059-9

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Keywords

  • Career choice
  • Self-efficacy
  • Social cognitive career theory
  • STEM career