Accenture recently surveyed over 4,000 students in the UK to better understand their perceptions of STEM careers. Many of their findings mimic what we see from the thousands of students that use the Couragion career literacy app.

For example, the Accenture survey found that the opportunity to be creative was the leading career aspiration among girls with 52% citing this aspiration.

In the Couragion app, we find that both boys and girls prioritize creativity when considering career options. 61% of boys and 58% of girls want a high level of creativity in their career.

While students seek job creativity, they do not feel that STEM careers provide it. For instance, in the Accenture survey only 32% of girls associate STEM career with being creative.

In our work with career role models, we find that this student perception is wrong. Time and again our STEM role models tell us how important creativity is in their jobs. When asked to rate the level of creativity required for their job (on a scale of 1 to 100), the average is 71 across all of our role models!

So how can we help to change student perceptions around STEM careers and creativity? First, we need to expand students’ definitions of what creativity is. Oftentimes creativity is only associated with art or design based careers – such as a graphic designer coming up with new patterns for this season’s ski jackets. But creativity is just as important to a cancer research that needs to design new experiments for testing a trial drug treatment or to a data scientist that needs to decide how to graphically display data in order to convince city council to build more bike paths. Using this expanded definition of creativity, industry and role models need to share specific examples of how they use creativity on a day-to-day basis so that students can see the real-world applicability of creativity in STEM jobs. And finally, educators, family members and mentors can help by actively pointing out the creative aspects of STEM jobs when completing career exploration activities with students.

 What ideas do you have for helping students see how important creativity is to STEM careers? Share your ideas with us on Twitter - @couragion #creativity #stemcareers.

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