“A professed interest in STEM careers is a more accurate predictor of pursuing an education and subsequent career than test scores.”
(Goodwin. The development of a measure of engineering identity. June 2016. American Society of Engineering Education, quoted in Messages Matter: Effective Messages for Reaching Tomorrow’s Innovators by DiscoverE)
We know what works; we know what we need to do. Let’s get young people excited and interested in engineering and technology careers! Let’s show them what is possible by introducing them to STEM professionals that look like them and come from similar backgrounds. Giving youth opportunities to explore, build, and invent wherever they are. Let’s support a groundswell of voices that help them along the way. Giving young people a sense of belonging in STEM, with a clear vision of how to make a STEM career a reality, is a guiding principle to the work of STEM Next.
At STEM Next, we know who, how, when, and where we talk about engineering and other STEM careers matters. Supported in part by STEM Next Opportunity Fund, we are excited to share the Messages Matter report, led by DiscoverE and Global Strategy Group, a year-long research project to learn more about what youth and their families think about engineering.
The report helps give STEM champions – public and private funders, corporations, K-12 school leaders and educators, afterschool and summer program providers, and high education a deeper understanding of the types of messaging that resonate most with youth and their families. As it turns out, parents are their most trusted career advisors for young people.
What resonates for youth? Seeing profiles of engineers who look like them, along with powerful key messages like (1) Engineering is a career that is open to everyone, (2) Engineering is a well-paid and prestigious field, and (3) Engineers can make a world of difference.
The report also breaks down messaging suggestions for groups based on gender, race, and ethnicity. Understanding and activating the powerful messages that resonate with youth from various backgrounds is a powerful strategy for those who work in STEM education that supports a more equitable and diverse STEM workforce.
STEM Next believes this research is foundational for the field to increase the number of young people – from all backgrounds – who believe that STEM is a place for them.