Science is one of the most popular subjects in school, but few pupils hope to take up careers in the sector, a new survey has shown.
The study of more than 500 14- to 19-year-olds found that one in five A-level students rate science as their favourite subject, more than any other subject mentioned. It is the fourth most popular subject among GCSE-level pupils, behind art and design, ICT and maths.
However, only 15 per cent of pupils who said science was their favourite were considering a career in it.
The research, by New Outlooks in Science and Engineering (Noise), a group that encourages teenagers to pursue science and engineering beyond school, showed that students thought science careers would be demanding. Four in 10 believed that they would have to work long hours.
A quarter of respondents felt that scientists were seen as nerdy and feared there would be a lack of social interaction.
Boys are still much more likely than girls to consider a career in science or engineering, with 22 per cent of boys saying this was an option, compared with 12 per cent of girls.
A survey of graduates last year by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development revealed that one in three believed they had studied the wrong course at university and that they should have taken a more scientific or technical course.
Sima Adhya, an aerospace engineer who works with Noise, said: "It's great that science is so popular at school. But I think GCSE and A-level students are not aware of the wealth and breadth of opportunities open to science graduates. If the UK is to stay at the forefront of industries such as pharmaceuticals, aerospace and biotechnology we need to be inspiring the next generation of scientists."
For further details on careers in science and engineering visit www.noisemakers.org.uk