'People like me': identifying personal attributes of STEM professionals

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This Full Paper presents the findings from a study to identify the attributes STEM professionals believe make them successful in their role. Engineering and other STEM employers indicate that they value transferable skills linked to personal characteristics and attributes, often called soft skills. These attributes of STEM professionals were also compared with a separate set of 16 STEM attributes developed for use in STEM engagement interventions for children and young people. A snowball sample of self-identified STEM employees was gathered (n=217), with the majority of respondents from the North East of England (54%). Using an online survey participants named up to six personal attributes and were asked to rate how well the 16 STEM attributes described them. Thematic analysis identified 19 different themes with soft skills contributing 68% of the terms provided. This research provides a clear indication that soft skills are valued by established employees in their work. It also indicates that there is merit in looking beyond subject knowledge to frame engineering education and engagement activities. The 16 STEM Attributes in the STEM engagement interventions were found to realistically represent the attributes of those working in STEM. An attributes based approach to engagement could help children and young people to identify the skills that they have (or could develop), or support students with employability by enabling them to elucidate the value of their own skills to the employer.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2022 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE 2022)
Place of PublicationPiscataway, US
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781665462440
ISBN (Print)9781665462457
Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 2022
EventFrontiers in Education 2022: Grand Challenges in Engineering Education - Uppsala Congress Centre, Uppsala, Sweden
Duration: 8 Oct 202211 Oct 2022

Publication series

NameProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
ISSN (Print)1539-4565
ISSN (Electronic)2377-634X


ConferenceFrontiers in Education 2022
Internet address


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