Attracting (female) adolescents into STEM studies - where's the beef?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference article in proceedingsScientificpeer-review


The low number of students studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has been a cause for concern for the past decades in the Western countries. Furthermore, the student body in STEM has narrowed since the number of female students in STEM fields decreases despite outreach activities. In order for the society to have enough appropriately educated work force, STEM attractiveness and increasing it is the focus of this concept paper. Although the lack of interest in STEM studies has been analyzed widely, we still have not been able to attract more (female) adolescents in STEM fields. Furthermore, previous research has shed light on the variety of STEM outreach activities, but the effects of these activities are not definitive. These concerns are common also in the Nordic countries, which has led to establishing an Erasmus+ Strategic Partnerships project ‘Engineering Nordic Future’ in 2018. One of the focus areas of the project pertains to the ways of attracting adolescents into STEM studies. As part of this project, the present literature review identifies the key features that contribute to the effectiveness of STEM outreach activities. The analysis focuses on K-12 activities targeted for (female)2 adolescents. The resulting model provides criteria for improving the effectiveness of current STEM outreach activities. The criteria may be applied to evaluate the impact of university-led STEM outreach activities and to guide related decision-making.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the SEFI 47th Annual Conference
Subtitle of host publicationVarietas delectat... Complexity is the new normality
PublisherSociété européenne pour la formation des ingénieurs
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-2-87352-018-2
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeA4 Conference publication
EventAnnual Conference of the European Society for Engineering Education - Budapest, Hungary
Duration: 16 Sept 201920 Sept 2019
Conference number: 47


ConferenceAnnual Conference of the European Society for Engineering Education
Abbreviated titleSEFI
Internet address


  • STEM
  • Outreach
  • STEM attractiveness
  • STEM effectiveness


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