95% children recall male role models as inspiration in STEM fields: Survey

June 30, 2021

Avishkaar, an edtech player that focuses on robotics, AI, coding, and app development, conducted a survey titled – “India’s Future in Next-Generation Tech & STEM ” in June 2021 among 5000 parents and 5000 children across Indian cities including Delhi NCR, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad and Cochin.

The survey brought to light two pertinent insights:

Firstly, it indicated that gender disparity in STEM fields in India is a glaring issue, owing to a lack of female role models in the industry –

  • 95% children, including girls, recall male role models as inspiration in STEM fields, highlighting the urgent need to increase the exposure around women role models in STEM fields
  • When asked why there is an underrepresentation of girl children choosing to pursue a career in STEM and choose top three reasons:
    • 50% of parents feel that societal pressures are one of the main reasons
    • 42% feel that the parents’ influence plays a role
    • 30% of parents even feel that the work environment in our country in these fields is more suitable for males versus females
  • Secondly, it highlighted the need for schools to implement hands-on learning and introduce children to the world of innovation and move away from rote learning techniques –
    • 53% of the parent respondents use the hands-on learning approach to keep up their children’s interest levels in next-gen tech & STEM subjects. This includes toys and kits that help their children with application-based learning
    • Only 33% of parents feel that the current school curriculum is enough to help their child prepare for a future in next-gen tech and STEM to some extent. 90% of parents feel that this aspect of the curriculum should be made a priority in school

Commenting on the insights from the survey, Pooja Goyal, COO, and Co-founder, Avishkaar said, “It is heartening to see that parents are making conscious choices to ensure they nurture an innovative mindset among their children. I’m convinced that If our children have to thrive in the world of tomorrow, we need to create micro-environments in schools and homes that make it safe for children to experiment, to take risks, to fail, to think outside the box, to break things, and to build new things. We need to ensure that our children are not mere consumers but creators of technology.

Other key insights from the survey:

Gender disparity, a hidden concern?

  • When asked about how critical STEM was for their child, 81% of parents with male children feel that next-gen technology education and STEM is critical for their child, as compared to 68% of parents with female children
  • What grabs our attention even more is that many parents (54%) feel that those parents with male children are actually more likely to influence their child to pursue STEM than parents with female children
  • When children were asked to express their choice, 85% of male children would choose to pursue a career in STEM, as compared to only 57% of female children

STEM-related subjects continue to be hot favourites

  • 56% of all parents are keen for their children to pursue IT/ Technology, more than any other subject. This is followed by Science (46%) and mathematics (43%). In contrast, only 23% of parents wish their child to pursue Arts-related subjects.
    • When looking at preference from a gender point of view, 60% of parents with male children would like their child to pursue subjects related to IT/ Technology, as compared to only 33% of parents with female children
  • On the other hand, 54% of children wish to pursue Science in future, while roughly 57% wish to pursue IT/ Technology

Why STEM?

  • In total, 76% of parents feel that STEM and next-gen tech education is critical for their child
  • When asked to highlight reasons, of the 76%, 75% feel that this will improve analytical skills within their children, and 69% feel that it is critical as they expect the world to become completely technology-oriented in the near future.

Not enough emphasis on STEM and next-generation technology education in school?

  • About 42% of parents with children in the age group of 13-17 years feel that the current school curriculum is not helping their child at all, which is a significantly higher ratio than that of parents with kids in younger age categories
  • On the other hand, when compared to what children feel, a massive 73% feel that their school is doing enough to encourage them to pursue a career in STEM and next-gen tech.

Parents’ influence on children’s choices – a boon or bane?

  • Roughly 45% of parents feel that they would be extremely influential on their child’s career choices
  • In fact, the majority of parents (62%) would be extremely willing to go the extra mile to make their child pursue a career in STEM.
    • However, only 35% of parents with female children feel this way.
  • For over 60% of the children, parents remain the largest influencers on career decisions.
  • With regard to their decision to pursue a career in STEM, 45% of children feel that their parents have been extremely influential in their decision
    • Girls (74%) seem to be more influenced by their parents when it comes to deciding a career in STEM, as compared to boys (58%).

Also read: Newcastle University, British Council Scholarships for Women in STEM

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