STEM 3.9 Changing the Conversation

To challenge some of the old messages, or stereotypes, and to attract young people to careers in engineering, the National Academy of Engineering commissioned a study. Released in 2008, the purpose of the study was to identify and test positive messaging about engineering to improve the public’s understanding of the engineering profession [1].

The study found that the “branding” of engineers must be modified to appeal to different audiences, especially teenage girls.

By changing the conversation from an emphasis on math and science to the value that STEM has for society, we can attract more students to STEM disciplines.

When we talk to students about STEM careers, it is imperative that we use specific messages to guide our conversations to:

  1. Increase student awareness of opportunities in STEM.
  2. Spark student interest in STEM careers.
  1. National Academy of Engineering. Committee on Public Understanding of Engineering Messages, 2008, Changing the Conversation: Improving Public Understanding of Engineering, Washington DC: National Academies Press.