Middle- and secondary-school students' STEM career interest and its relationship to gender, grades, and family size in Kazakhstan

Balta N., Japashov N., Mansurova A., Tzafilkou K., Oliveira A. W. , Lathrop R.

SCIENCE EDUCATION, 2022 (SSCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1002/sce.21776
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, IBZ Online, Applied Science & Technology Source, EBSCO Education Source, Education Abstracts, Educational research abstracts (ERA), ERIC (Education Resources Information Center), INSPEC, Psycinfo, DIALNET
  • Keywords: Kazakh students, middle and high school, STEM career and gender, STEM career family and grades, STEM career interest development, MATHEMATICS, ACHIEVEMENT, PERFORMANCE, COLLEGE, MAJORS, CHOICE, WOMEN, GIRLS, ASSOCIATION, EXPERIENCES
  • Süleyman Demirel University Affiliated: No


Despite pervasive educational efforts, student interest in STEM careers continues to decline in many countries. The present study seeks to better understand this phenomenon by examining how internal factors (gender) and external factors (school grades, grade level, family size) relate to Kazakh students' STEM career interests. To this end, a newly developed instrument (STEM Career Interest Survey) based on social cognitive career theory was used to assess interest in STEM careers among middle- and secondary students in Kazakhstan. The survey was completed by a sample of 396 Kazakh students in grades 7 to 12. Our statistical analyses revealed that (1) female students were generally less interested in STEM careers than male students; (2) students with higher grades in physics classes were significantly more interested in STEM careers than low-performing students; (3) students at higher grade levels were generally more interested in STEM careers than those in lower grade levels; (4) the number of siblings was positively associated with student interest in mathematics careers; and, (5) family support and role models were significantly correlated with student STEM career interest. Our findings suggest that student development of interest in STEM careers constitutes an epigenetic phenomenon that involves complex interactions between internal factors (e.g., self-efficacy) and external factors (e.g., gender stereotypes). Based on this, it is argued that the promotion of student interest in STEM careers is a multifaceted problem whose resolution requires, among other things, dispelling stereotypes in students' sociocultural context through systematic renegotiation of traditional gender-technology relations characteristic of a country's culture.