At what point in time did STEM subjects become trendy? Watch

Arran90
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My mother attended secondary school in the 1980s and studied Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics to O Level. At that time STEM subjects were not very fashionable or trendy to take.

It could probably be argued well into the 1990s that if a kid was good at STEM subjects or enjoyed them they were unlucky as the cool kids took arts and soft subjects.

The situation has completely changed and now there is a glut of students studying STEM subjects in HE whereas there was a shortage back in the 1980s and 90s.

At what point in time did STEM subjects become trendy?
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hello_shawn
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Global warming. Renewable energy. Medicine. etc etc
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ibyghee
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(Original post by Arran90)
My mother attended secondary school in the 1980s and studied Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics to O Level. At that time STEM subjects were not very fashionable or trendy to take.

It could probably be argued well into the 1990s that if a kid was good at STEM subjects or enjoyed them they were unlucky as the cool kids took arts and soft subjects.

The situation has completely changed and now there is a glut of students studying STEM subjects in HE whereas there was a shortage back in the 1980s and 90s.

At what point in time did STEM subjects become trendy?
I thought it was the opposite. Like a lot of people pick subjects like sociology/law/business in university a lot now.
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Arran90
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(Original post by ibyghee)
I thought it was the opposite. Like a lot of people pick subjects like sociology/law/business in university a lot now.
It's not strictly a numbers game. It's possible that students picking soft subjects 25 years ago thought themselves to be trendy but now they might think of themselves as weak or second rate that they can't handle the 'hard' stuff.

There is far less stigma associated with kids who are good at STEM or enjoy STEM subjects than there was in the 1980s and 90s. They were often viewed as nerds, geeks, or very brainy, but now it's possible to ace STEM subjects and be perceived as normal.
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ibyghee
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(Original post by Arran90)
It's not strictly a numbers game. It's possible that students picking soft subjects 25 years ago thought themselves to be trendy but now they might think of themselves as weak or second rate that they can't handle the 'hard' stuff.

There is far less stigma associated with kids who are good at STEM or enjoy STEM subjects than there was in the 1980s and 90s. They were often viewed as nerds, geeks, or very brainy, but now it's possible to ace STEM subjects and be perceived as normal.
I dunno, maybe people realised that STEM subjects are the key to success. Or, the government needed more STEM research and so put emphasis on it.
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Arran90
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Back in the 1990s:

If you got an A* in English language / literature, history, geography, RS, food tech, business studies, psychology, sociology GCSEs you were normal.

If you got an A* in art, music, drama, PE GCSEs you were talented.

If you got an A* in foreign language GCSEs you were a linguist.

If you got an A* in D&T Resistant materials GCSE you were better with your hands than your brain.

If you got an A* in mathematics, science, statistics, electronics, ICT (which is not a STEM subject) GCSEs you were a nerd or deemed to be a smart ass.

A lot of students preferred to be normal, talented, or a linguist, unless they were better with their hands than their brain, rather than a nerd or a smart ass.

Nowadays you can get a 9 in mathematics, science, or computer science GCSEs and still be seen as normal.
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Student-95
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(Original post by Arran90)
Back in the 1990s:

If you got an A* in English language / literature, history, geography, RS, food tech, business studies, psychology, sociology GCSEs you were normal.

If you got an A* in art, music, drama, PE GCSEs you were talented.

If you got an A* in foreign language GCSEs you were a linguist.

If you got an A* in D&T Resistant materials GCSE you were better with your hands than your brain.

If you got an A* in mathematics, science, statistics, electronics, ICT (which is not a STEM subject) GCSEs you were a nerd or deemed to be a smart ass.

A lot of students preferred to be normal, talented, or a linguist, unless they were better with their hands than their brain, rather than a nerd or a smart ass.

Nowadays you can get a 9 in mathematics, science, or computer science GCSEs and still be seen as normal.
An A* in English, history, geography etc, wasn't normal back then and getting 9s in stem isn't normal now.
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Arran90
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(Original post by Student-95)
An A* in English, history, geography etc, wasn't normal back then and getting 9s in stem isn't normal now.
They might be rarely awarded grades when you look at the numbers but #6 is about the way that they are popularly perceived.
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Student-95
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(Original post by Arran90)
They might be rarely awarded grades when you look at the numbers but #6 is about the way that they are popularly perceived.
They're all perceived well. People aren't called 'nerds' for being good at maths - they're called nerds for being weird / dorky / socially inept. It's just that those kinds of people seem to be more commonly good at stem than other subjects.
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Arran90
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(Original post by Student-95)
People aren't called 'nerds' for being good at maths.
They were back in the 1990s.
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marinade
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Still are now.
(Original post by Arran90)
They were back in the 1990s.
STEM became a thing in the late 00s and early 2010s with the Brian Cox effect and think tanks and governments saying so.

There may be less stigma at school doing these subjects, but somehow I doubt it. I really do.

There isn't less stigma in society about STEM subjects. It's just a myth has growth up, which was an engineered as a fightback against the decline of science that all right these subjects are very geeky but you will get a very high paid job and they are in demand. They aren't particularly. We have way too many STEM graduates for how the UK economy as a whole is structrured.
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Max1989
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It's just the nature of progression, as we become more technology based and less art based the demand for the STEM side of things has increased massively the past 30 years. Also the point that getting a job in the arts is hard, not guaranteed pay and you acctualy have to be good at it to succeed, it puts people off instead keeping it as a hobby. STEM is more reliable. Truth is that getting into any job is tough, but STEM increases your chances as we need more doctors and engineers than humanities and artsy people.

In the past science and fact was against the law, we only followed the word of art and belief, we worshiped deities and idols... We have socially evolved from that and now we worship the machines that we make.
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Arran90
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(Original post by Max1989)
It's just the nature of progression, as we become more technology based and less art based the demand for the STEM side of things has increased massively the past 30 years.
The evidence is that there were more STEM jobs in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s than in the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s after factoring out software and IT jobs.

Also the point that getting a job in the arts is hard, not guaranteed pay and you acctualy have to be good at it to succeed, it puts people off instead keeping it as a hobby.
People with arts degrees tend to succeed in employment through their better than average social skills.
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marinade
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(Original post by Arran90)
The evidence is that there were more STEM jobs in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s than in the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s after factoring out software and IT jobs.



People with arts degrees tend to succeed in employment through their better than average social skills.
The 1960s, the 'white heat of technology'. Difficult to make comparisons because the very start of the 1960s the % going to university was vanishingly small, something like 1%, tiny compared to even later in the decade of the 1970s or 1980s. There was also an expansion in white collar jobs and a general sense (that went on till the 70s in some sectors) that there weren't enough people to fill them.

I don't think people with arts degrees have better than average social skills, it's just a widely held belief.

The STEM debate isn't new, it started in the 19th century. Here http://www.victorianweb.org/history/...n/barnett.html are some collected quotes about the public school system and comments about the late 19th century about how backward the UK's science education was (I'm aware of the comments as I've read a lot of Barnett, and a bit of Hobsbawm).
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Joinedup
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Don't really accept the premise but you could argue that it used to matter less what subects you did as long as you came out reasonably literate and numerate because there were a lot more reasonable jobs with prospects for advancement for 16 year olds. A lot of clerical work started getting eliminated from the early 1990s
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Arran90
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(Original post by Joinedup)
Don't really accept the premise but you could argue that it used to matter less what subects you did as long as you came out reasonably literate and numerate because there were a lot more reasonable jobs with prospects for advancement for 16 year olds. A lot of clerical work started getting eliminated from the early 1990s
I think there is some truth to this. My mother's decision to take three sciences for O Level resulted in a degree of bewilderment and criticism from friends and family. Why doesn't she take 'happy' subjects instead? Only take physics or chemistry if you want to study them at A Level. What really matters to employers is that you can read and write, and they don't really care about your other subjects.
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Tolgarda
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Wait, they haven't always been in vogue?
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Arran90
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(Original post by marinade)
STEM became a thing in the late 00s and early 2010s with the Brian Cox effect and think tanks and governments saying so.
I made the same estimate myself. In 2006 I started my A Levels in STEM subjects and I can definitely say that STEM subjects weren't all that trendy (in my locality at least) but around 2010 attitudes appeared to be changing. I wondered whether it had anything to do with the change in government but the momentum had been building up since 2005ish.

We have way too many STEM graduates for how the UK economy as a whole is structrured.
If there is no demand for STEM and no demand for arts and humanities then what is there demand for?
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marinade
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(Original post by Arran90)
If there is no demand for STEM and no demand for arts and humanities then what is there demand for?
We have an hour glass economy with a huge number of low skill jobs, little in the middle and a large number of high skills jobs but often concentrated in specific geographic locations. The high skill jobs demand a degree or two or three and substantial experience. The basic premise of that is outside of various jobs hubs, there is generally speaking not much demand for graduates. Of course there is demand for quite specific things that are regulated.

That's not how it has to be, we should be a top heavy economy with even more high skill jobs and a lot more middle skill jobs. Instead we have countless low skill industries that get to moan how clueless graduates are with their lack of fictional 'soft skills' whatever the hell that is and then moan and take them anyway, get the benefits and pay peanuts. A lot of the low skill stuff has been disappearing and will do so the next 20 years, so what are we left with then?
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(Original post by Arran90)
Back in the 1990s:

If you got an A* in English language / literature, history, geography, RS, food tech, business studies, psychology, sociology GCSEs you were normal.

If you got an A* in art, music, drama, PE GCSEs you were talented.

If you got an A* in foreign language GCSEs you were a linguist.

If you got an A* in D&T Resistant materials GCSE you were better with your hands than your brain.

If you got an A* in mathematics, science, statistics, electronics, ICT (which is not a STEM subject) GCSEs you were a nerd or deemed to be a smart ass.

A lot of students preferred to be normal, talented, or a linguist, unless they were better with their hands than their brain, rather than a nerd or a smart ass.

Nowadays you can get a 9 in mathematics, science, or computer science GCSEs and still be seen as normal.
A* wasn’t a grade in GCSEs until 1995 (and was set at the top 10% of grades) and wasn’t introduced at A level until 2002 :flute:

Neither were “normal” in the 90s
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