Low Socioeconomic Status Students' STEM Career Interest in Relation to Gender, Grade Level, and STEM Attitude*
This study investigated low socioeconomic status middle school students' STEM career interest (in areas of physical science, life science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) in relation to demographic variables of gender and grade level and also attitudes towards STEM areas (science, math, engineering, and 21st century skills). The sample of the study consisted of 263 sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students attending one of five middle schools located in the rural areas of a city in the northeast region of Turkey. Analysis results showed that students had positive feelings in having a STEM career and these perceptions did not differ in terms of gender and grade level. Moreover, students' STEM career interest was high for both males and females. Among three grade levels, there was no significant difference in terms of STEM career interest, except for life science. Besides, canonical correlation analysis showed that students' career interest in STEM was positively related to students' attitudes towards STEM fields. Turkish low socioeconomic status middle school students have limited information about STEM career options and they should be given sufficient guidance about STEM occupations during middle school years. Additionally, we suggest investigating the ways of enhancing students' STEM career interest in further studies.