Choosing a career in Science and Technology
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Student choice is the center of many discussions about higher education policy. At the same time, and regardless of the emphasis put on achieving an important endowment of graduates trained in science and engineering, participation in these fields is stagnated or declining. Evidence suggests that the provision of additional scholarships for science and engineering students or abolishing the tuition fees will have practically no impact. The major problem seems to be that science and engineering programs suffer from a poor image, including as being difficult, leading to lower earning potentials than other specializations. The present study contributes to our understanding of the student choice process by highlighting by means of a probit model with selection the factors and dimensions that influence the choice of field of study. Specifically, we will show the role that non-pecuniary rewards play in the selection process. Using results from a self-designed survey to young individuals finishing high school in Argentina, we show that when factors as the social respect and expected labour demand are considered, the income expectations become irrelevant for the decision about what type of career to follow at the university. Specifically, those inclined towards science, technology and engineering fields are motivated by the belief of obtaining important rewards in the form of social rewards (i.e., reputation) and the expectation of graduating from a highly demanded university career.