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Texas Instruments National Math Month Survey Finds Teens Lack Math Requirements for Hottest Careers

Doctors, Scientists and Business Executives Are Popular Career Choices But Teens Aren’t Going Beyond Schools’ Minimum Math Requirements to Prepare

Apr 5, 2006

Dallas, April 5, 2006 – Here’s something that just doesn’t add up.  While today’s teens aspire for elite careers, they aren’t planning to take the advanced math courses they know will help land their dream job, according to a national survey released today in conjunction with National Math Month.  The survey shows that four out of five teenagers believe math is important for achieving their goals of being doctors, scientists, executives and lawyers, but only half are planning to take advanced math classes beyond their schools’ minimum requirements.

One-thousand teenagers ages 12 to 17 weighed in on their career goals in a telephone survey* commissioned by Texas Instruments (TI) as part of the company’s new Moms For Math initiative — an ongoing effort to help parents inspire their children to greater achievement in math coursework.  Eighty-percent of teens said they wanted to pursue careers in medicine, sports, science, education, business, military, law or architecture.  The top choices were careers in medicine (13%), sports (12%), science/biology and teaching (tied at 11%) — many of which require advanced college degrees with significant focus on mathematics and science.

David Mammano, founder and publisher of Next Step Magazine, a career resource guide for teens distributed in more than 21,000 high schools, said, “I have interviewed leaders in all of these fields on what they will look for in the next generation of professionals. They tell me that having a strong math education is critical, particularly for developing important analytical and reasoning skills.

“No matter what career they choose, the reality for teens is they’ve got to take challenging coursework in advanced math to be competitive in the professional world,” said Mammano.

With Moms For Math, TI has opened up an ongoing dialogue with parents to help them show teens the importance of math for their future. The initiative includes a Web site that provides math and career resources to help parents encourage their children to take more advanced math coursework. TI also asks parents to send their opinions and ideas of how Moms For Math can help them help their children.

In developing Moms For Math, TI commissioned focus groups with approximately 120 moms of middle and high school students across the United States in New York, Chicago, Miami, Houston and San Francisco.   The results were clear, with the majority of mothers stating that their children’s math education is very important for their future success. Most of the mothers surveyed thought that their child’s math education is more advanced today than it was when they were the same age – and they would like to be better equipped to help their child with their course work.  Regardless of the region or state, each focus group yielded moms’ need for additional help to inspire their teens to persevere in math and take as much as possible, regardless of the career they choose. 

To help meet this need, TI has compiled tools and resources online. These resources include feedback from moms on how they motivate their teens to take challenging math classes; tips from educators; career profiles and advice from the editors of Next Step Magazine; “We All Use Math Every Day” classroom activities based on the hit CBS television series “NUMB3RS;” and information about products and technology to help students excel in advanced math. 

“The research is clear that a strong math education provides many professional benefits to teens later in life,” said Melendy Lovett, president of Texas Instruments Educational & Productivity Solutions business. “TI has found overwhelmingly that moms are ‘for’ math and want to make sure their teens are getting the best education to prepare for the future.  We are committed to providing resources like Moms For Math to help parents inspire their teens to take as much math as possible.”

More Survey Results: Teens Split By Gender, Age and Location On Career Choices But Agree Math is Important for Success

The survey of 1,002 U.S. teenagers ages 12 to17, half male and half female, revealed:

  • Twice as many girls than boys want to be a doctor (19% vs. 8%), lawyer (10% vs. 6%) and teacher (15% vs. 7%)
  • Three times as many boys want to go into a sports-related field (18% vs. 6%). Overall, older teens are less likely to want to go into sports (16% ages 12-14 vs. 8% ages 15-17)
  • Older teens are twice as likely to want to go into business (13% ages 15-17 vs. 6% ages 12-14)
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  • More teens in the South want to be a doctor than in any other region. Significantly more teens in the Northeast want to be a teacher
  • 85 percent said math is important for achieving their career goals, with virtually no difference between age, gender, race or location
  • 52 percent said they plan to take advanced math classes above their school’s basic requirements, with virtually no difference between age, gender, race or location

* Editor’s Note: Opinion Research Corporation Teen CARAVAN® Omnibus Study was used to conduct the telephone survey from March 16-19, 2006. The margin for error is 3.2%.


About Texas Instruments
Educational & Productivity Solutions, a business of Texas Instruments, provides a wide range of advanced tools connecting the classroom experience with real-world applications and enabling students and teachers to explore math and science interactively. Designed with leading educators, Texas Instruments' educational technology and services are tested against recognized third-party research on effective instruction and improved student learning. Such research shows that use of graphing calculators and wireless collaborative technology in the classroom helps teachers implement instructional strategies that lead to higher student interest, engagement and achievement in mathematics.* For more than 15 years, TI has worked closely with educators and administrators to develop student-focused curricular and supplemental classroom materials, and it supports the world's largest professional development organization for the appropriate use of educational technology. More information is available at www.education.ti.com.

Texas Instruments Incorporated is the world leader in digital signal processing and analog technologies, the semiconductor engines of the Internet age. In addition to Semiconductor, the company's businesses also include Sensors & Controls, and Educational & Productivity Solutions. TI is headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and has manufacturing or sales operations in more than 25 countries.

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Based on related research on classroom communications systems and specific pedagogy.  See education.ti.com/research for more information.

Media Contacts:
Laura Slagle
GolinHarris for Texas Instruments
(972) 341-2541