What parent doesn’t want success for their child?
For those that have taken a look at the Forbes World’s Billionaires List, they might be convinced that pursuing a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is the key to achieving that goal.
The image of wealthy entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Sergey Brin and Larry Page furthers the common association of STEM careers with high demand and even higher salaries. With net worths in the dozens of billions, it’s easy for parents to assume that the relationship between tycoons’ STEM careers and their enormous success is one of causation, not correlation. But STEM careers aren’t for everyone, and not all STEM professionals will reap the benefits that they might expect.
It’s understandable that parents want their children to enter the massive career field that encompasses “STEM.” As scientific and technological innovations continue to occur every day, many believe that STEM is a secure career path. But in a country where hundreds of thousands of students are graduating with STEM degrees, the demand for them isn’t as high as one would hope.
Misconceptions and generalizations about the hot topic of “STEM” are causing many parents to push their children into the technical field when it might not be their best option.
According to the New York Times, the number of graduates with technical majors tends to outpace job openings. Students majoring in biology and engineering are far outnumbering the number of positions offered to them. The only exception to the rule is computer science, which makes up just a fraction of the STEM degrees that students are graduating with. By making the generalization that STEM offers a multitude of job opportunities, no matter what sector of STEM one is in, people are setting job-hungry graduates up for disappointment.
But even if one is able to snag a job in STEM, it might cost them their mental health in the future. By forcing children to pursue STEM careers when they are not passionate about the field, parents are bound to cause their children job dissatisfaction. As revealed in a study by Ohio State University, this can lead to mental health troubles in the future, such as depression, sleep problems and excessive worry. The mental toll from working in an unsatisfying job in one’s 20s or 30s can be seen as soon as one reaches their 40s.
“You don’t have to be near the end of your career to see the health impact of job satisfaction, particularly on your mental health,” Ohio State University associate professor of sociology Hui Zheng said.
It’s a common sentiment to despise a certain subject in school. Whether that be history or physics, it’s certain almost every student will struggle to enjoy or do well in a class in high school or college. While parents might have the best intentions when encouraging their children to study STEM, a student’s dislike for equations and chemical compounds might run deeper than most believe.
Trailblazers earn their name by doing the unexpected. Parents shouldn’t discourage their kids from doing the same.
A study conducted by Chinese researchers found that there might be some truth to the right-brain left-brain myth. Results suggest that different brain structures might be responsible for one’s abilities in the two main fields of “real-life human activity”— science and the arts. Distinctions observed in participants’ regional gray matter volume correlated with whether they experienced artistic or scientific creativity. STEM might be a desirable field, but whether an individual excels in it or not could come down to the blueprint of their brain.
Misconceptions and generalizations about the hot topic of “STEM” are causing many parents to push their children into the technical field when it might not be their best option. As technology moguls are making headlines, society is creating a distorted view of what success is and how one can attain it. Yet, by favoring job security and salary over passion, parents could be hurting their children more than they are helping.
But there’s still a lesson to be learned from the most innovative minds of the past century. Whether they created Microsoft or sent an electric sports car into space, none of them made it big by ignoring their passions and choosing a career path because it was “safe.” Trailblazers earn their name by doing the unexpected. Parents shouldn’t discourage their kids from doing the same.
Photo courtesy of C And A Scientific