Research Projects Using Growing Up Data

Exploring the STEM career aspirations of eight-year-olds in Aotearoa

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Lead Organisation:
University of Canterbury
Lead Researcher:
Kaitlyn Martin
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Global and national concerns over young people’s attitudes and aspirations in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) have been pervasive through research and the media over recent years. While evidence suggests very early development of these factors, there has been little investigation into the early factors which shape career aspirations in STEM in Aotearoa.  

The overall objective of this study is to understand the extent of STEM-related career aspirations children have at eight years old and to examine the factors which shape these early aspirations. We aim to understand whether the inequities in gender, ethnic, and social variables which persist in post-compulsory study and careers in STEM are apparent at a young age. To achieve these objectives, we will utilise data from the Growing Up in New Zealand longitudinal study when child participants were eight years old, their sociodemographic variables, early literacy and maths skills, and associated parent/guardian study and career choice. This data will be assessed qualitatively and using cluster analysis along with a strengths-based approach to determine what factors encourage children typically underrepresented in STEM aspire to STEM-related careers.

This study represents a timely investigation into the factors which establish equitable and sustainable future employment for children in Aotearoa, which will advance our ability to face future challenges and opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics with a workface that represents the diversity of Aotearoa.