Encouraging a love of STEM from an early age is a great way to get more girls to take on careers in the field when they grow up—but figuring out how to cultivate that interest isn’t always easy. However, new research suggests that girls who play video games are more likely to earn a degree in a STEM field.

It might seem counter-productive to park your kids in front of a screen when you want to encourage them to gain new academic interests, but according to a study conducted by the University of Surrey, playing video games could lead to bright futures, especially for girls. The study found that teenage girls aged 13 and 14 who identified as “heavy gamers” (“heavy gaming” was defined as nine or more hours per week) were three times more likely to earn a degree in STEM subjects than girls who played no video games at all.

Photo: San Jose Public Library via Flickr 

The study also found that 100 percent of women who were already studying towards a STEM degree identified themselves as gamers. Interestingly, the same findings didn’t apply to boys who showed no specific correlation between playing video games and choosing a STEM career path.

Dr Anesa Hosein, lead researcher on the study, suggests that, “educators seeking to encourage more take up of PSTEM subjects should target girl gamers, as they already may have a natural interest in these subjects.” She continues, “We need to get better at identifying cues early to recognize which girls may be more interested in taking up PSTEM degrees.”

—Shahrzad Warkentin

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