People more interested in STEM careers in developing countries study finds

Internet users in developing countries are more interested in working in STEM fields, especially women, compared with their counterparts in developed countries, a Microsoft study has shown.

Almost 85 per cent of people in developing nations agreed that they would like to work in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), whereas fewer than six in ten respondents in developed countries said they would, according to the Microsoft report ‘Views from around the globe’.

Moreover, 77 per cent of women in developing countries felt encouraged to work in STEM fields, while only 46 per cent of women in more prosperous countries experienced the same encouragement.

“Finally, there is a real split in engagement regarding science and technology,” said Mark Penn, executive vice president at Microsoft, in a blog post.

According to Penn, developing countries have a “nearly unbounded enthusiasm for personal technology”, while developed nations are encouraging companies to make products that “don’t just work but work for them”.

However, when asked about the “best jobs” in the future, more than 40 per cent of those surveyed in both developing and developed countries (47 per cent, 43 per cent), agreed that STEM are the best fields to be working in, with medicine and business coming second and third.

Although Internet users in most countries said that personal technology had led to them finding lower-priced goods, more innovation in business, better education, and increased productivity, privacy was considered a major concern – a 5 per cent increase compared with last year’s figures.

Findings showed that nearly all users believed that their country did not have tough legal protections in place to make them feel safe when sharing online information. A total of 80 per cent of users in developing countries and 62 per cent in developed nations said they were not fully aware of what personal data was collected about them. 

The study respondents also believe that unless a foreign government asks for explicit permission when using information stored in a data centre in the country you are based, it should not be made available.

Microsoft's second annual survey was released ahead of the World Economic Forum that is taking place in Davos, Switzerland this week. A total of 12,002 Internet users were surveyed in the US, China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, South Korea, Russia, Germany, Turkey, Japan and France over a period of two weeks.  

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