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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Differences in STEM Feelings and Interest Between Boys and Girls


Children are exposed to many areas of interest and careers through accessible media and technologicaldevices. Research has shown that STEM careers are lacking in female representation. Accordingto the National Science Foundation, women only represented 28% of individuals in science andengineering occupations in 2010 (NSF 2014). Exposure to STEM careers in early childhood maybe an underlying cause of this underrepresentation; thus considering young children’s feelings andinterest in STEM is important for nurturing students to enter STEM fields. Children between ages3.61 to 7.21 years (N = 79) were asked about their interests in STEM activities and feelings abouta STEM task before and after playing a STEM application. Children reported decreased levels ofSTEM interest from pretest to posttest, whereas children’s self-efficacy for a STEM activity did notsignificantly differ from pretest to posttest. The results suggest that short-term exposure to a STEMapplication did not increase children’s STEM interest and self-efficacy toward STEM, as measuredby children’s verbal report.

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