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Many don’t realize the sheer variety of available careers that make use of STEM skills. With many of them producing plenty of open positions and few qualifying individuals available, there are many richly rewarding and stimulating opportunities readily available. Here are a few careers in STEM that you might not know existed.

Naval Architect

Engineering is more in-demand than ever before as we modernize and grow across the planet as a species, and the transporting of goods and passengers along sea routes remains a highly lucrative and useful tool in modern society. Pursuing a career as a naval architect enables for practical use of highly analytical and methodological abilities formed by a STEM education. Additionally, it enables for a creative and exciting working atmosphere that contributes towards enhancing the effectiveness and relevance of everything from sea trade to passenger shipping.

Flavour Technologist

Utilizing natural and artificial ingredients to create the perfect taste, these scientists are literally the faces behind your favourite snack foods and beverages. Often, they travel to study ingredients and flavours in their natural habitats, and by utilizing their high-level chemistry and biology skills, they can turn a passion for great taste into a lucrative art form.

Ethical Hacker

Usually officially certified by financial institutions, various corporations, and even government agencies, ethical hackers make use of meticulously refined computer and software programming skills to identify network infrastructure and system architecture vulnerabilities. They are paid well to identify security issues and fix them accordingly as a means of protecting organizations from unwanted criminal infiltration.

Oceanographer

History buffs and admirers of our planet’s largest natural resource would do well in choosing a career as an oceanographer. Contracted by government agencies and various organizations to explore the depths of the world’s vast oceans, they typically experience an invigorating and exciting career that uncovers ancient history and helps us better understand the inner workings of our collective environment. An example of an exciting career in oceanography is that of Dr. Robert Ballard, who in 1985 discovered the wreck of the RMS Titanic in the middle of the North Atlantic. He is now a celebrity in his own right, giving stimulating talks about his many shipwreck expeditions including those to the USS Thresher and RMS Lusitania.

Nanotechnology Engineer

These gifted experts work to manipulate materials at the molecular or atomic level to innovate and generate scientific progress towards a more sustainable future. Nanotechnology is explored in many forms including fabrics, drug therapy, vehicle engineering, and health sciences. Expect incredible career prospects, as the collective value of nanotechnology is expected to reach approximately $1 trillion – 5 percent of the United States’ GDP — by 2020.

As our world and its economy continue to evolve and shift towards STEM-focused change, so does demand for skilled workers with sufficient qualifications to innovate and help shape our future. By exploring these and the countless other available STEM careers in modern society, you’ll discover that your own individual future has never been brighter.

While STEM education in North America is catching on more each and every year, there remains a sizeable gender gap. Evidenced by countless studies and documented research projects, STEM careers are still primarily male-dominated. The skills and valuable contributions female intellectuals can introduce to society have been faced with stubbornness and nervousness from a male-dominated economy fearful of rapid change, and in order to recognize the importance of creating gender parity, first we must observe the statistics and understand how large this gap is. It is a problem that cannot be ignored any longer.

A History of Imbalance

For thousands of years, there has remained a gender imbalance in careers pertaining to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Until the mid-1910s, females didn’t even have the right to vote in many countries. In the Atomic Age, for example, women were “marketed” and encouraged to serve as homemakers and custodians of their high earning STEM-specialized significant others. The feminist revolution of the 1970s shifted these misconceptions to the point where it was recognized that females with STEM skills were valuable members of society that deserved to be treated as such, however. Since then, opportunities available to both genders in higher education have become increasingly similar to one another in most advanced economies. For example, Canada now has more women than men enrolled in post-secondary education (yet there is still a gender gap in terms of STEM specific education). It is a well-known fact that women, even to this day, simply aren’t paid as much as men for their equal contributions even in STEM, and this has soured the general perception of it forming viable career paths for females. Various groups such as the STEM Gender Equality Congress (SGEC), National Girls Collaborative Project, National Math and Science Initiative, and Women in Engineering Proactive Network are among many others working hard to narrow the gap and create gender parity through awareness and educating the public, businesses, and various industries utilizing STEM careers.

Higher STEM Attach Rate, Yet Gender Gap Remains

The 2011 Statistics Canada National Household Survey revealed that, as of 2011, 15% of Ottawa-area residents were STEM graduates and possessed a certificate, diploma, or degree in a relevant field. There is gender parity in science-based careers, but engineering, mathematics, and computer sciences remain heavily male-dominated. Of those Ottawa post-secondary graduates, only 27% were female. This remains the same situation across not just Canada, but North America. Boiling down this data to its essence, it demonstrates that STEM careers are the recipients of a far higher attach rate than several years ago, but the gender gap remains firmly in place despite an influx of sharp new minds earning qualifications suitable for STEM careers.

Shattering Misconceptions

Evidenced by this study indicating that North America is now the lowest-performing region as the economic gender gap has only increased by 1% since 2006, the replacement of older-generation workers with younger minds is making little difference in achieving gender parity in STEM careers. Society must further standardize support of STEM skills for both men and women, creating balanced working environments with equal consideration to capabilities of skilled workers regardless of gender. This can be achieved by educating youth on STEM at earlier ages, emphasizing and presenting strong support for males and females to shift away from the general consensus of STEM careers as a form of employment more suited to men. As more girls become inspired by science, technology, engineering, and mathematics-based learning and educated on the possibilities available to them, we may see a spike in intellectual adult females entering the STEM workforce, shattering established general misconceptions.

The best we can do, collectively, do combat the STEM gender gap and create parity is to educate, raise awareness of the issue, and lobby for change through shifting away from societal norms. By moving past misconceptions and establishing the importance of women and men in STEM careers, we can move more quickly towards a prosperous and efficient future.

When it comes to encouraging today’s youth to pursue a stimulating and richly rewarding STEM career, there is much work to be done. In today’s ever-changing economic landscape full of open positions for gifted intellectuals, there are more jobs than individuals capable of filling them. This is where educating today’s children comes into play as a means of bolstering our collective future’s brightness.

Engagement Stimulates the Mind

Educational institutions, particularly for younger individuals, need to reconsider their applied curriculum. By designing courses and programs simply for the sake of passing exams, we’ll never be able to convince youth of STEM careers being worth their time, but rather quite the opposite. By structuring curriculum to inspire and present relevant data in an engaging fashion via project-based learning that encourages problem solving, children will enjoy and be more excited about their learning environment and studies. This will result in a more stimulating and efficient atmosphere certain to more effectively inspire today’s youth to continue STEM studies throughout their primary, secondary, and post-secondary educations.

Strong and Dependable Career Paths

As we rely more on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to further advance modern society every year, it opens up a great deal of rewarding career possibilities. However, there are already more open positions than individuals qualified to fill them. By investing time, attentiveness, and considerable energy in encouraging today’s youth to pursue an interest in STEM education, we will collectively pad out economic inconsistencies, generating a consistent influx of knowledgeable and highly skilled citizens. In-demand, future-proofed, and increasingly relevant STEM career paths enable for enhanced mental stimulation and for these future employees to maximize their intellectual potential.

A Continuous Economic Shift

Even though there aren’t enough skilled STEM adults in society to fill many of the available positions in North America, the economic landscape is continuing to shift towards dependence on them to innovate, create, conceptualize, and make tangible changes. With the onset ever-growing trends of eco-living, tech innovation, humanities, and smart engineering, we’re seeing an economy that is breaking away from previously standardized norms of heavy industry and commercialization anchored by high school educations or, for the privileged, post-secondary education. Essentially, the opportunities for today’s students are there and will remain open for the foreseeable future, and inspiring children to pursue similar career paths through STEM education will help maintain this demand to continually generate employment opportunities and societal support.

Moving forward, every succeeding generation will likely depend increasingly more on STEM-trained individuals to maintain a healthy economy and society. As a result, it is imperative that we inspire today’s youth to think differently. Moving on from busywork and applying stimulating curriculum, they have a better chance of being successful, healthy, and happy citizens of the future.