Cowboys, Actresses, and Mathematicians

I recently came across two articles that really caught my eye.The first was in the Wall Street Journal and was a ranking of the best jobs in the US. Mathematician was ranked #1, with Actuary and Statistician holding #2 and #3 respectively. Computer, science, and engineering related jobs also were very well represented in the top of the list.

Everybody has a different take on what makes a good job. And we should be thankful for that. Down towards the bottom of the list are jobs society depends on such as firefighter, nurse, and child care worker. So the listing isn’t about importance or value, but rather more narrowly focused on pay, stress, and working conditions.

Math Education: A Pathway with Limitless Choices For a Child

That said, given the wide range of doors opened by a studying math, science, and engineering, you would think more parents would encourage their children to consider these areas. Not so, according to a second article publishing the results of a poll by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Society for Quality.

A few highlights: 97% of parents “said they believe that knowledge of math and science will help their children have a successful career.” Yet, “only 20% of parents have encouraged/will encourage their child/children to consider an engineering career.” OK, so maybe it slipped parents’ minds to make the recommendation.

But the really disappointing results for me were: “More girls say their parents are likely to encourage them to become an actress (21%) than an engineer (10%).”And, “31% of boys vs. 10% of girls say their parents have encouraged them to think about an engineering career.”
So, with all due apologies to Willie Nelson:

Parents, don’t you let babies grow up to be actresses.

Let them be doctors, mathematicians, engineers, and such.