Parents are more likely to push their daughters to become actresses than to pursue a career as an engineer, according to a study commissioned by the American Society of Quality.

The survey results released Jan. 27 show 85% of children ages 8 to 17 say they're not interested in an engineering career. Of the 1,277 youths surveyed, 44% said they don't know much about engineering, 30% said they prefer a more exciting career and 21% said they don't think their math and science skills are adequate.

Parents appear to have little enthusiasm for the field, with only 20% of the 584 surveyed saying they have encouraged or will encourage their children to consider engineering as a career.

In terms of demographics, males are much more likely to consider engineering as a career than females, with 24% saying they're interested in the field.

The potential shortage could have a damaging impact on quality, said Cheryl Birdsong-Dire, ASQ member and process engineer.

"The shortage of 70,000 engineers by 2010 will likely cause less focus on innovation toward quality as well as aging and outdated standards," she said in a statement. "In addition, knowledge transfer from retiring engineers to incoming engineers will continue to weaken, threatening progress. This will increase infrastructure costs for generations to come."

ASQ's release of the survey conducted by Harris Interactive coincides with National Engineers Week, which takes place Feb. 15-21. ASQ will offer a webinar on engineering as a career choice during National Engineers Week on its Web site at www.asq.org/manufacturing.