Brian Cox and The Big Bang Theory make STEM ‘more appealing’

According to a report in the telegraph, TV series such as The Big Bang Theory and the Gadget Show could be a driving force behind more students taking STEM subjects in the future, with nearly half of young people surveyed admitting that these shows made the subjects more appealing…

The survey of 1,500 14-18 year olds also found that programmes presented by Brian Cox had a similar effect, with 37 per cent saying the physicist had made them consider taking STEM subjects.

Last year, the University of Manchester became the first in the country to require students to gain two elite A* grades – alongside an A – at A-level to get onto its physics degrees.

While Manchester has always been a popular choice for physics students, the university said the rise in applications could, in part, be attributed to the attraction of Prof Cox, who teaches Quantum Physics and Relativity to first year students.

Commenting last year, Prof Sir Peter Knight, then president of the Institute of Physics, said the subject had benefited from its “geek-chic” image, promoted by television presenters such as Brian Cox and shows such as the Big Bang Theory.

However, while these television shows may be prompting an increased interest in science, technology, engineering and maths, the study from Mondelēz International also revealed that the top reason that young people avoid STEM subjects at school is because they find them “boring”, while 53 per cent believe the subjects to be “harder” than humanities.

The survey is released as Semta – the sector skills council for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies – last month warned that industry was facing a crippling “skills gap” and a shortfall of 80,000 workers within the next two years alone, because of a shortage in the number of teenagers studying subjects such as science and maths to a high level.

The survey from Mondelēz, found that misconceptions about what jobs in STEM entail are negatively influencing young peoples’ choices, with over two thirds believing that only those with the highest IQs can work in a STEM related career.

According to the research, girls are particularly likely to be deterred from choosing STEM subjects and jobs, with only 49 per cent considering these subjects, compared to 64 per cent of boys.

In addition, girls are especially put off by engineering with only 19 per cent saying they would consider a career in that field versus 51 per cent of boys…

More at: Brian Cox and The Big Bang Theory make STEM ‘more appealing’

If this premise is valid, do you think our media organisations and perhaps the BBC in particular should be doing more to make STEM subjects attractive to young people? Do they perhaps have a tendency to be aligned more closely towards the arts rather than the sciences and commission an output that reflects this? Or is that unfair? Your thoughts? Please share in the comments or via Twitter…

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  1. KMPF_partners

    SchoolsImprove Big Bang might make STEM more appealing to some, but also reinforces stereotype of blonde girl being clueless about it

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