Parents, Educators Inclined to Steer Children Away from STEM Teaching Careers: ASQ Survey

Despite push for STEM teachers, parents more apt to encourage children to pursue engineering, computer careers, new ASQ survey finds

MILWAUKEE, Wis., Feb. 16, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- via PRWEB - While 90 percent of parents would encourage their children to pursue a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), career, 87 percent say they would be concerned if their child decided to pursue a career as a K-12 STEM teacher, according to an online survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of ASQ in January among 644 parents of children under 18 living in the household.

In 2010, President Obama introduced a national campaign to recruit and prepare 100,000 new effective STEM teachers by 2021 in order to spur higher science and math achievement among American K-12 students.

Ninety percent of parents say they would steer their kids into a STEM career, but only 9 percent would encourage their children to pursue STEM teaching as a career, according to the survey. The top three careers they would desire their children to pursue include:

  • Engineering – 50 percent
  • Doctor – 41 percent
  • Computer/IT analyst – 27 percent

The Harris Poll, conducted in advance of National Engineers Week, Feb. 21–27, determined parents' perceptions about STEM careers and teaching, in particular. Celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2016, ASQ has more than 14,000 member engineers who say they are concerned about ensuring a highly skilled work force and educated engineers for the future.

In a separate survey of K-12 educators conducted by ASQ, 29 percent of educators say they would encourage their own children to pursue a STEM teaching career. However, 74 percent would encourage their child to pursue engineering, 44 percent would encourage their children to pursue a career as a scientist, and 33 percent would encourage their child to pursue a computer/IT analyst career.

"While STEM careers like engineering and software development are getting more well-deserved attention in recent years, it's STEM teachers who will equip our youth with the knowledge and skills to gather and evaluate evidence, make sense of information across a wide range of fields, and solve tough problems," said ASQ CEO William Troy.


According to the Harris and ASQ polls, teachers and parents expressed a number of concerns about their child pursuing STEM teaching as a career. According to the Harris survey of parents:

  • 70 percent of parents surveyed by Harris and 77 percent of educators polled by ASQ worry their child may not make enough money as a teacher.
  • 69 percent of parents surveyed by Harris and 82 percent of educators are concerned that STEM teachers may not be compensated enough for their heavy workloads.
  • 65 percent of parents say that a STEM teaching career may not be worth the cost of a college degree.
  • 67 percent of educators polled by ASQ say that STEM teaching positions may not offer a path for career advancement.


Financial incentives would make STEM teaching more attractive to parents and educators. According to the Harris survey, 55 percent of parents said they would be more likely to encourage a STEM teaching career path if STEM teachers were better compensated. Furthermore, 51 percent of parents would be more apt to steer kids toward the career if more college scholarships were available for students pursuing STEM teaching degrees.

According to the ASQ survey, 67 percent of educators would be more likely to encourage a STEM teaching career path if STEM teachers were better compensated and 68 percent would encourage their children to pursue STEM teaching if there were more opportunities for career growth.

Furthermore, educators believe a math or science degree should be required to teach those subjects to better educate children. According to the ASQ survey of educators, 80 percent say they strongly believe that a math or science degree should be required for teaching those subjects in K-12 classrooms and 84 percent said that having a specific STEM degree would improve the quality of K-12 STEM teaching.

For more on President Obama's initiative to train STEM teachers visit:

Harris Poll Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of ASQ between Jan. 7–11, 2016, among 2,058 adults (aged 18 and over) (among whom 644 are parents of a child(ren) under 18 living in the household). This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Christel Henke at 414-332-2933, or chenke(at)

ASQ Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online worldwide by ASQ between Jan. 25–Feb. 8, 2016, among 185 ASQ members who self-identify themselves as being in the education sector. Twenty-three percent identified themselves in the survey as teachers, 20 percent identified themselves as administrators, and 57 percent chose "other," which includes professors, trainers, education consultants, company trainers and other educational roles.

About ASQ

ASQ is a global community of people dedicated to quality who share the ideas and tools that make our world work better. With millions of individual and organizational members of the community in 150 countries, ASQ has the reputation and reach to bring together the diverse quality champions who are transforming the world's corporations, organizations and communities to meet tomorrow's critical challenges. Celebrating 70 years in 2016, ASQ, with its world headquarters in Milwaukee, Wis., USA, operates regional centers in the U.S. and Canada, North Asia, South Asia, Latin America and Middle East and Africa. Learn more about ASQ's members, mission, technologies and training at

About the Harris Poll

Over the last five decades, Harris Polls have become media staples. With comprehensive experience and precise technique in public opinion polling, along with a proven track record of uncovering consumers' motivations and behaviors, The Harris Poll has gained strong brand recognition around the world. The Harris Poll offers a diverse portfolio of proprietary client solutions to transform relevant insights into actionable foresight for a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant and consumer packaged goods. Contact The Harris Poll for more information.

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