Trends and perceptions of choosing chemistry as a major and a career†
In many countries, the choice of a STEM career, especially in chemistry, is decreasing. A shortage of appropriately skilled workers can become a threat to any country's future achievements. Our research strives to understand behavioral trends and career choice factors related to personal and environmental themes. Building on the foundations of the Social Cognitive Career Theory, the research sheds light on prospective trends and retrospective perceptions of chemistry-related professionals in choosing chemistry in high school, as a career, and as a STEM occupation. To analyze the prospective trends in choosing chemistry, we used data curated by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics on 545 778 high school graduates. For the retrospective perceptions of choosing a chemistry career, we investigated three research groups (N = 190): chemists and chemical engineers, chemistry teachers, and third year undergraduate chemistry students. We found that choosing chemistry as a major and profession decreases from high school to higher education. Women tend to choose chemistry more than men at high school and university levels, and minorities tend to choose it more in high school but less in higher education compared to non-minorities. Task-oriented self-efficacy was the factor which contributed the most to chemistry career choice in all three research groups. The theoretical contribution is the unique SCCT application through the integration of both the prospective views on the behavioral theme and the retrospective views on the personal and environmental themes. Furthermore, we present new chemistry-related factors within the personal theme of this theoretical framework that can extend the SCCT framework.