Researchers from George Mason University attended a summer research program in the sciences at their university and polled participants about their interest in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields.
The results showed that 65.5% of the students said "science experiences with a family member or a childhood activity piqued their initial interest," according to the study's press release. As this graph shows, media and museums have a lot less impact than family and friends:
Clearly, life experiences during childhood matter much more than watching STEM experts on TV. After all, who determines what kind of experiences a child has more than their parents?
Women make up just 26% of the STEM workforce, and people in the field generally view men more favorably than women, even if the women are equally credentialed. It's important to note, however, that 92.6% of students polled said hands-on lab experience is what ultimately made them choose STEM fields. While parenting is enough to get the initial fire started, good schooling is required for it to grow.
The takeaway: Taking your daughter on a scientific field trip can be the beginning of an interest in science (after all, famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson became enamored with science as a youth after a trip to the Hayden Planetarium), but it's ultimately up to family and friends to spark an interest. Whether it's through Bill Nye-style experiments at home or spending a day at a museum, Mom and Dad are the keys to the next Nobel Prize.