What EY and JA learned about teens, gender, the economy, the future and STEM

This information provided by Smart Cities Council Compassionate Cities.

With the unfortunate state of youth unemployment around the world today, a glimpse at what the next generation of job seekers is thinking about college, careers and their futures is pretty revealing. The research recently conducted by EY and Junior Achievement and highlighted below suggests that as much as we do to encourage STEM learning for boys and girls – we need to do even more. – Philip Bane


A surprising 91% of teenage boys and girls ages 13-17 know what kind of job they want after they graduate from high school, according to research conducted on behalf of EY and Junior Achievement. But that may be where the similarities between boys and girls end.

Data showed that career preferences remain drawn along gender lines, with more than one-third (36%) of boys pursuing careers in STEM versus only 11% of girls. Twenty-six percent of girls plan to study for careers in the arts (vs. 10% of boys) and girls favor careers in the medical/dental field 24% to just 6% of boys.

The data also suggested boys and girls both want to engage in meaningful work, but how they define that isn't necessarily in synch. For boys, fun and financial stability are essential. Girls, on the other hand, want to help people.

The skills teens say they want to learn to prepare for their dream jobs include:

  • Technology skills (54% boys vs. 27% girls)
  • Relationship building and collaboration (50% girls vs. 31% boys)

"While it's encouraging to see teens today are giving a great deal of thought to their career aspirations, it's surprising to learn that there are still significant gaps between boys' and girls' interest in careers choice. We hoped to learn that girls, for example, would be more attracted to STEM careers beyond medicine – related to science, engineering, computers and math - since there is virtually unlimited opportunity for talented and qualified professionals in these fields," said Jack E. Kosakowski, President and CEO of Junior Achievement USA.

Money matters
Personal or family economics and the status of jobs in America are changing 52% of students' college plans – for example, expecting to work and go to college at the same time or to attend a less expensive state school or community college.

Additionally, 85% of respondents expect to pay for some or all of their education, whether through loans, scholarships or jobs.

A couple of other interesting data points:

  • Only 9% of boys and girls aspire to start their own business
  • Only 7% of boys and girls have chosen to work in public service.
  • The three top influences on career choices are parents and societal influences (TV/media) followed by a class or teacher

Need for a supportive, inclusive culture
"The research findings around gender differences related to career skills and workplace aspirations further validate the importance of building a supportive and inclusive culture where diverse thinking and experiences are not only encouraged, but valued as we introduce the next generation of purpose-driven workers into the workforce," said Gary Kozlowski, Partner, Ernst & Young LLP, who leads a network of EY leaders serving on more than 40 local JA boards across the US, Canada and the Caribbean. EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services.

Related articles:
Talent crisis: GE takes on gender equality in science and tech
STEAM-in-action: Young inventors tackle community challenges with heart
How UL helps steer young people into high-demand technology jobs

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This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.

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