Welcome back everyone!
As a sophomore in high school, I’m at the stage of my life where I’m starting to plan for college, and adults are often asking me about what I want to do in life, where I want to go to school, and what I want to study there. Additionally, it’s the stage of my life where adults asking these questions always tell me I should be gearing towards going into a STEM field, since they want more women in the field, it’s a more secure job outlook, and the pay is usually higher. I am personally not a STEM kind of girl- I do well in my math and science classes at school and enjoy them when I have a good/fun teacher, but I don’t love the subjects themselves and couldn’t really see myself studying them further, especially at the high and intense level you would in college. If you’ve felt similarly, but are constantly being told STEM is the way to go in life, keep on reading to hear my thoughts.
I’m not going to be including statistics or “evidence” to support my points because I don’t really have a hard claim- I just want to offer my two cents. First of all, don’t feel pressured into doing what other people tell you is best. They may have your best interests at heart, but they probably don’t know you as well as you know yourself, and you’ll know whether a certain path is right for you or not. It’s more important to do something you’re passionate about- you’ll most likely perform better in your college classes, be more driven in the field, and therefore get a higher-level position and make more money. If this is in the STEM field, great! If not, it doesn’t mean you can’t make just as much or more money/be as successful or even more successful (note that I’m not saying money = success, I’m just using these as two separate examples).
Another thing I’ve noticed from articles I’ve read or portrayals of STEM workplaces in the media is that women are often treated very unfairly at these companies. It is still a relatively male-dominated field and men at these tech-startups tend to feel superior to their women co-workers when they should be treating each other as equals. A lot of big STEM companies that come with the big salaries people are attracted to are also super stressful environments where there’s often a lot of competition- this environment isn’t for everyone. Yes, STEM is a very broad generalization of fields/topics of study/etc. and there are many industries and workplaces besides tech startups or companies that are under the STEM umbrella, but I feel like tech is the one that’s buzzing the most since technology is constantly updating and is proving to be one of the biggest parts of our future.
There are still plenty of jobs outside of the STEM umbrella, and there will be something related to your interest. Definitely be cautious about job prospects (ex. being an artist may not be the most steady job), but don’t force yourself into a field for the salary or the prestige- it probably won’t get you very far. I still don’t really know what I want to do, but I know that it most likely won’t be in a STEM field. Another thing that one of my older friends told me which I think could be a good idea if you’re nervous about job prospects and kind of on the fence about STEM is major in whatever you’re actually passionate about (i.e. something not in STEM in this case) and minor in something quantitative like programming, statistics, etc. I know this wouldn’t work for everyone, but it’s something to think about if you’re choosing a major and debating.
Think of this: there’s always going to be people at the top of a field. No matter what field it is, there’s a way to work yourself up and eventually have a higher-level position and make more money. If you love your job, you’ll be better at it- you’ll move up those ranks higher and end up making just as much money, if not more, than you would’ve made at a “more prestigious” entry-level job. Also, money and prestige aren’t everything! If you’re happy with your job and you’re able to pay for everything you physically need to live, who’s to say you need to go chasing prestige? It all depends on what your priorities are and how you want to live your life.
Lastly, remember that it’s okay to not even know what pathway you want to be on. I’m only a sophomore in high school, so of course I don’t know what I want to be- I know, I’m a little unqualified to be giving advice. However, I know that I’ve had countless amounts of adults lecture me on this topic and my mom has always reassured me that it’s more important to do what I love, so I figured I would spread that positive outlook. Let me know what you think!