From athletes to astrophysicists: Gender differences in patterns and predictors of career aspirations in pre-adolescence

Brea L. Perry, Edward W. Morris, Tanja C. Link, Carl Leukefeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper adds to research on girls' growing educational advantage by examining gender differences in career paths. Using baseline data from an intervention study (TRY-IT!) targeting 265 sixth-graders in Title I schools, our research traces adolescent career aspirations by gender, race and class. Additionally, we investigate whether girls and boys exhibit differential sensitivity to environmental risk and protective factors that shape career and educational aspirations. We find that the career choices of boys vary more widely by social context, including socioeconomic status, race, and academic resources. Specifically, among youth with fewer social and academic advantages, girls aspire to more practical careers and careers which require higher levels of educational attainment relative to boys. The findings reveal how sources of inequality such as race and class shape gendered aspirations and complicate gender inequality. We reason that boys' choices are more volatile and socially contingent because of the emphasis on high-status careers as a signifier of masculinity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5
JournalSocial Sciences
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 by the author.

Keywords

  • Career aspirations
  • Gender differences
  • Intersectionality
  • Masculinity
  • Middle school

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (all)

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