Teen Girls' Interest in STEM Careers Declines

New Survey by Junior Achievement Asks Teens about Career and Job Goals 

(Washington, DC)  – A new survey by Junior Achievement (JA) conducted by the research group Engine shows that only 9 percent of girls between ages of 13 and 17 are interested in careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). This is down from 11 percent from a similar survey in 2018. Teen boys’ interest in STEM careers increased slightly to 27 percent, up from 24 percent in 2018. The survey of 1,004 teens was conducted from April 16 to 21, 2019.

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A 2009 study from MIT indicates that young people are interested in STEM at an early age, but begin to lose interest as they become older due to a lack of interaction with mentors and role models in the STEM fields. A way Junior Achievement is addressing this is by bringing STEM professionals into classrooms to deliver the organization’s career-readiness programs. (Include any local information related to programs specifically designed to emphasize STEM or girls in STEM).

Other findings from the survey include:

  • 85 percent of teens say they know what kind of job they want after graduation, down slightly from 88 percent in 2018.

  • While girls’ interest in STEM careers like engineering, robotics and computer science declined, their interest in careers in the medical and dental fields increased to 25 percent, up from 19 percent in 2018.

  •  Half of all teens (51%) expect to work this summer. However, more than two-thirds of 16- and 17-year-olds (69%) expect to have a summer job.

  • Top summer jobs include retail (26%) and food service (26%). These are followed by outdoor work (17%) and babysitting/child care (14%). Very few (5%) anticipate working in an office over the summer.

Junior Achievement delivers programs focused on promoting work-readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy to students in grades K through 12. JA’s programs help teens better understand the connection between what they learn in school and how it will apply toward their future career goals. In 2018, Junior Achievement reached over 66,000 students in Greater Washington.


This report presents the findings of a Youth CARAVAN survey conducted by Engine among a sample of 1,004 13-17-year-olds, comprising of 502 males and 502 females.  This survey was live on April 16-21, 2019. 

Respondents for this survey are selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls.  Because the sample is based on those who initially self-selected for participation, no estimates of sampling error can be calculated.  All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options.

About Junior Achievement of Greater Washington

JA of Greater Washington is a non-profit organization that brings together school systems, business leaders and trained mentor volunteers to provide equal access to the tools, people and experiences all youth need to be 100% prepared for real life in the real world. We are changing the game for the region’s youth with relevant experiential education in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. That means students gain what matters most: control over their own lives, futures and careers.

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