In late 2011, first year university students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses across Australia were invited to participate in the international Interests and Recruitment in Science (IRIS) study. IRIS investigates the influences on young people’s decisions to choose university STEM courses and their subsequent experiences of these courses. The study also has a particular focus on the motivations and experiences of young women in courses such as physics, IT and engineering given the low rates of female participation in these fields.
Around 3500 students from 30 Australian universities contributed their views on the relative importance of various school and non-school influences on their decisions, as well as insights into their experiences of university STEM courses so far. It is hoped that their contributions will help improve recruitment, retention and gender equity in STEM higher education and careers.
*Other authors: Frances Quinn, Nadya Rizk, Neil Anderson, Peter Hubber, John Kenny, Len Sparrow, Jan West & Sue Wilson