Study on Science Aspirations and Career Choice: Age 10-14

Study on Science Aspirations and Career Choice: Age 10-14

There is now considerable evidence that children's interest in school science declines from the age of ten onwards. The continued under-representation of girls and women in science is also well documented. Yet research suggests that there is little or no gender distinction in attitudes towards science at age ten, suggesting that there is a critical period between the ages of 10 and 14 in which to engage students.

This failure to engage young people, particularly girls, with pursuing scientific careers points to the need to develop a better understanding of why this is happening, and to create a new vision of why careers in science matter, both within schools and in the wider context of society.

The Science Aspirations and Career Choice: Age 10-14 Project is a five year longitudinal study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESCR) as part of their Science and Mathematics Education Targeted Initiative. It addresses the following four questions:


  1. How are students' educational and occupational aspirations formed over time?
  2. How are these aspirations influenced by their peers, parents and their experience of school science?
  3. How are these aspirations shaped by gender, class and ethnic identities?
  4. How and why are student educational and occupational aspirations affected by an intervention which specifically addresses career aspirations in science, mathematics and engineering?


The project will involve tracking of 6,000 pupils from primary school (age 10) into secondary school (up to the age of 14) using questionnaires. Repeated interviews will also be conducted with a sub-sample of 60 pupils to track their views, aspirations and engagement with science over the five years. The parents of these pupils will be interviewed twice (once when their child is in primary school and again towards the end of the project when the child reaches 14 years old). We will also be talking to teachers.


Part of the project will also involve developing strategies (in collaboration with teachers and other experts) for teaching about science-based careers in Key Stage 3.

The Project is led by Professor Louise Archer.  The other investigators on the Project are Professor Jonathan Osborne, Dr Justin Dillon, Dr Jennifer DeWitt and Mr Billy Wong.

For more information about the project, please contact the Project Administrator,
Mrs Beatrice Willis:
Beatrice.willis [at]
Telephone: 020 7848 3087

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