Embedded in the local cultural and political context, this study sought to explore the individual, social and cultural influences affecting students’ interest in pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) studies and eventual careers in Qatar. Guided by the Theory of Systems Thinking, this study was implemented with a view to investigating the factors likely to shape student STEM educational and career interest. Data for this research was gathered from semi-structured interviews and education policy documents and national reports. Using a purposive sampling technique, interviews were conducted with 32 grade 12 students recruited from 4 public (government-funded) middle schools (8 students at each school). Policy documents and reports provided supplementary triangulated data that added rigor to this study.
Results derived from the study reveal that while STEM is identified as a priority in Qatar’s education policy agenda, a real concern for educators, policymakers, and employers is the acute leaky pipeline in STEM fields of study and careers in the country. Findings also indicated that despite significant investments made to promote students’ interest in STEM degrees or professions, the outcomes are meager. Individual, contextual, institutional, and socio-cultural barriers continue to thwart the country’s aspirations to build national capacity, especially regarding the development of students’ STEM-related skills. The results derived from this study have important implications for STEM-related fields of study and career.
Abdellatif Sellami, Qatar University, Qatar