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57% girl students, 85% boys interested in pursuing STEM as career, survey finds

The survey, titled ‘India’s Future in Next-Generation Tech & STEM’, was conducted by edtech platform Avishkaar, which focuses on AI, robotics and app development.

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New Delhi: Just about 57 per cent of girl students are interested in pursuing the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (STEM) as a career, as compared to 85 per cent of boys, says a multi-city survey involving 5,000 parents and as many school students (aged 5-15 years).

The survey, titled “India’s Future in Next-Generation Tech & STEM”, was conducted by the edtech platform Avishkaar, which focuses on AI, robotics and app development. It was an online exercise and included participants from Delhi-NCR, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Pune, Hyderabad, and Cochin (Kochi). 

The survey states 95 per cent of all students interested in pursuing STEM, including girls, recalled male role models as inspiration in the field, pointing to a lack of female presence in the field.  

According to the survey, 56 per cent of the parents surveyed said they were keen for their children to pursue IT/Technology over any other subject, but the number dropped to 33 per cent among parents with daughters.

STEM as a field encompasses a wide range of careers, from aeronautics and software engineering to urban planning and science research. 

Parents, the survey says, are less keen on their daughters pursuing STEM because of societal pressure and lack of hands-on learning in the school curriculum. 

Also Read: These are the 11 Indian women scientists the new STEM chairs are named after

Parents ‘influential’ in career decisions

Parents remain influential in making career decisions for their children, the survey says, adding that 30 per cent of parents feel the work environment in our country in STEM-related fields is more suitable for males than it is for females. 

We had set out to understand parent and student expectations with this survey but ended up finding the reason for gender gap in the field of STEM. This gender bias among parents in a way is leaking and being perpetrated by the children,” Avishkaar COO and cofounder Pooja Goyal told ThePrint.

“We are looking at a variety of response systems in order to bring more female students into STEM. These include amplifying the success of female students, supporting more female students by means of scholarship and being more gender neutral in our advertisements,” she said. 

Among the other findings of the survey, around 42 per cent of parents with children in the age group of 13-17 years feel the current school curriculum is not helping their child at all with respect to a future in STEM. Among students, meanwhile, 73 per cent feel their school is doing enough to encourage them to pursue a career in STEM and next-gen tech.

While IT/Technology is the most popular field among parents, science was second, with 46 per cent of the respondents saying they want their children to pursue the field. Maths followed at 43 per cent, with only 23 per cent wanting their children to pursue arts-related subjects.

(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)

Also Read: Coronavirus has forced 51% non-STEM Indian students to drop plan to study abroad: QS report


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