The Engage to Excel executive report issued by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in 2012 made five recommendations to produce one million STEM graduates by 2022. Recommendation 4 is “[e]ncourage partnerships among stakeholders to diversify pathways to STEM careers” (p.7) and related Action 4-4 is “[improve] data provided by the Department of Education and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to STEM students, parents, and the greater community on STEM disciplines and the labor market” (p.8).
To this librarian’s ears, Action 4-4 sounds like a call to create greater access and promotion of STEM career information, allowing students and their parents to make better decisions about entering STEM disciplines. At least one study (Talking about Leaving) suggests that many undergraduates enter STEM disciplines based on little or stereotypical career information, and leave STEM without accurate information about the career options they could have pursued.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics continues to publish the Occupational Outlook Handbook, which is full of great information about the requirements, pay, and job outlook for occupations; however, even the online version is still text-based and could appeal more to young adults with some media elements. In my search for engaging information about biology careers, I have come across these interviews of STEM professionals that are worth sharing with undergraduates:
Librarians can help students make informed decisions about entering or leaving STEM disciplines by discovering and sharing similar resources. We can also spread the word by collaborating with our colleagues in advising and career counseling to promote these resources.
Photo attribution: “Science Careers in Search of Women, 2014,” Argonne National Laboratory, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
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