(Aug. 8, 2016) -- A new study by Huy Le, associate professor of management at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), identifies factors that could lead more young students to successful careers in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
Over the past several years, the U.S. has ranked low among other nations in numbers of students proficient in math and science, as well as skilled workers in those fields. According to Le, American students are perfectly capable and interested in entering those fields, but aren’t being encouraged to pursue a STEM career.
He and his colleagues followed students from the time they were in 8th grade up to between 6 and 9 years after they first applied to college. They adapted a psychological framework to their evaluations of the students, focusing specifically on how well they fit into the STEM environment.
“People seek out the environment that fits their personal characteristics,” Le said. “If they work in an arena that suits them, they’ll be happy and successful. With these predictors, we can identify students with potential for obtaining a STEM degree nearly a decade before they pursue it.”
Le also found no difference between the abilities of girls and boys to succeed in STEM, based on these two predictors. Essentially, if a girl and a boy have the same amount of interest and ability to succeed, they are each entirely capable of doing so.
“There are many theories about the social pressure that keeps women out of STEM,” he said. “We found that young men in general were more interested in the field, but considering that young women showed the same ability in our study, that seems to suggest that the dearth of women in the field is probably due to societal factors.”
Le notes that many students, especially women, who excel cognitively also have excellent verbal ability and will often choose a career other than STEM because they have so many opportunities before them. Le says that educators and counselors can influence those decisions by simply introducing students to the benefits of a career in science or engineering.
“This is a critical issue in our economy right now,” he said. “We have a crippling deficit of participants in the STEM field, and if we can encourage our students to pursue this path, we’ll be on our way to eradicating it.”
Read Huy Le’s study, “Building the STEM pipeline: Findings of a 9-year longitudinal research project.”
Learn more about the UTSA Department of Management.
The UTSA Women’s Studies Institute and Women’s Studies Program will feature film screenings, provide lectures and book readings that promote diversity and focus on achieving social justice and women’s empowerment.
Various locations, Main, Downtown and Hemisfair Campuses
The exhibition is a juried competition featuring recent work by UTSA undergraduate and graduate students. The selected works represent the full range of materials, methods, and techniques, ranging from traditional processes to contemporary digital photography and video.
Arts Building Main Art Gallery (ART 2.03.04), Main Campus
Amin Qutub, UTSA associate professor of biomedical engineering, will introduce the latest advances in science and technology illustrating how daily behaviors influence the ability of our brain cells to repair and regenerate, enabling a future that optimizes brain health.
McNay Art Museum, 6000 N. New Braunfels, San Antonio
UTSA faculty and staff are encouraged to share thoughts, experiences and ideas on inclusive excellence at UTSA.
Student Union Anaqua Room (SU 2.03.08), Main Campus
March Into Your Major is an event for students who are unsure of their major, have chosen a major but are not sure it’s the right fit for them or students who are confident of their choice of major but are unsure of what careers they can actually pursue with their major.
Convocation Center, Main Campus
As part of UTSA's 50th Anniversary celebration, Fred Schneider, computer science professor at Cornell University, will speak on Impediments to Incentivizing Cyber-security Investment." The lecture is free and open to the public.
Biosciences Building Loeffler Room (BSB 3.03.22), Main Campus
Rowdy’s Roadshow will take place in Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, the Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio. Roadshow events offer opportunities to meet other students, faculty and staff, sign up for Orientation and get Rowdy Ready.
Cities across Texas
A former police officer, criminal justice professor Robert Rico will give an encore of his Pizza & Research presentation, Restorative Justice: A Relational Approach to Civic Discourse. Pizza will be served will supplies last.
John Peace Library North Commons, Second Floor, Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
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