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Harris Interactive conducted two surveys on behalf of Microsoft to understand the shortage of students entering science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-related fields. One survey focused on parents of K-12 students and the other surveyed college students pursuing STEM degrees.

Why do students choose to pursue math or science? The answer appears to vary by gender. Forty-nine percent of female STEM students say it was to make a difference, and 61% of male students said that games or toys in their childhoods sparked their interest. For 68% of the female respondents, a teacher or class got them interested in science, math, engineering or technology.

Many of the students surveyed said they majored in STEM for work reasons — 68% mentioned good salary and 66% mentioned job potential; 68% of those same students also said they majored in STEM because they found it stimulating and challenging.

Harris Interactive asked parents about their perception of STEM education in K-12. It found that 93% of parents believe that STEM education should be a priority in the U.S., but only 49% believe it is treated as a priority. And while 50% of parents want to see their children pursue careers in STEM, only 24% said they were willing to spend extra money to make their children successful in math and science classes.

Source: Mashable News