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Why not opt for a career in Science and Technology? An analysis of potentially valid reasons

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Uploaded by RRI Tools on 01 November 2015

Becker, F.S. (2009), Why not opt for a career in Science and Technology? An analysis of potentially valid reasons, SEFI 37th Annual Conference, Rotterdam, July 1-3.
The recent shortage of engineers has triggered a plethora of efforts to promote science and technology (S&T) as attractive career options. Normally, it is assumed that young people shy away from “tough majors” or make irrational choices, based on an absence of information. This in turn leads to even more initiatives trying to convince them, very often based on the selfish interests of the parties involved, but without taking possible concerns seriously. While not denying the fundamental necessity for a higher share of the population having a background in science and technology, I want to pursue a different approach. Only by identifying potentially valid reasons for the lack of interest in S&T will it be possible to change not just some “misguided” perceptions among the younger generation, but to make viable recommendations for necessary changes in society. Therefore, this presentation will discuss the importance of image and status, the influence of society and peer groups, as well as financial rewards and career aspects. It will be shown that, to a large extent, the universally observable trend away from S&T is due to rational decisions, determined by the “boundary conditions” set by society itself. Some possible action items to improve this situation are suggested.
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