In the next seven years, more than a million jobs will open up that require specialized technology skills, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But there won’t be enough qualified college graduates to fill them. Are we doing enough to get kids interested in math and science?

Harris Interactive conducted two surveys on behalf of Microsoft to understand the shortage of students entering science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-related fields. One survey focused on parents of K-12 students and the other surveyed college students pursuing STEM degrees.

Why do students choose to pursue math or science? The answer appears to vary by gender. Forty-nine percent of female STEM students say it was to make a difference, and 61% of male students said that games or toys in their childhoods sparked their interest. For 68% of the female respondents, a teacher or class got them interested in science, math, engineering or technology.

Many of the students surveyed said they majored in STEM for work reasons — 68% mentioned good salary and 66% mentioned job potential; 68% of those same students also said they majored in STEM because they found it stimulating and challenging.


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Harris Interactive asked parents about their perception of STEM education in K-12. It found that 93% of parents believe that STEM education should be a priority in the U.S., but only 49% believe it is treated as a priority. And while 50% of parents want to see their children pursue careers in STEM, only 24% said they were willing to spend extra money to make their children successful in math and science classes.

For more information from the Microsoft-Harris Interactive surveys, you can check out the results or the infographic below.