9%. That is, according to a post of the Pew Research Center, the percentage of working scientists with Ph.D.'s who say they were inspired to pursue science based on "childhood experience of natural world, science museums." (See chart, below.)
I think that's low. Why? One big reason. Many of the scientists in the survey didn't actually answer the question.
Let me explain.
In the survey, scientists were asked to share one or two significant experiences that influenced their decision to become a scientists. Responses were open-ended, and responses coded into categories. No issue there.
The problem is that the top category coded for behaviors and attitudes. These are outcomes of experiences, not experiences themselves.
Now, I LOVE the top category (and would have coded for it myself). 32% of respondents said "intellectual challenge, lifelong curiosity, love of science and nature." Those are fantastic behaviors and attitudes, and they should be measured and tracked because they do matter ... a lot. But they are not experiences.
I suspect if we were to go back to those third of respondents to follow-up saying "that's great, now tell me about the experiences that made you that way," we'd get a whole lot more responses about childhood. We'd collect more stories of science mentors (family members, teachers, etc.) and experiences that reflect awe and wonder about our natural world.
And yes, we'd collect more fantastic stories of childhood science museum experiences as well!
I respectfully acknowledge that I live and work on the traditional lands of the Duwamish people. I thank them for the care of this land, and I endeavor to help museums bring forward a more complete and inclusive history and culture in their work.