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The sex factor in career choice

Currie, J. (1978) The sex factor in career choice. Murdoch University, Murdoch, W.A.

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This paper reviews recent findings from Western Australia, regarding the career choice of twelfth grade high school students. It examines the thesis that males and females are affected by different socio-cultural influences when they choose a career. Female students in most societies still occupy lower-level positions and are steered toward more nurturant and supportive occupations, such as nursing, social work, primary teaching and secretarial work. Males tend to have a wider choice of careers, and are taught to strive toward higher-level positions and occupations that tend to require a more scientific-technological background, such as engineering, architecture, motor-mechanics or medicine. It is hypothesized that the extent to which this is true depends, to a certain degree, upon one's socio-economic position and the historical circumstances in respect to women's position in the particular society. In this study it is assumed that the higher one's socio-economic background and the greater women's participation in the labour force, the more frequently a female student will aspire to a male-dominated high-status occupation.

The analysis based principally on the two variables of sex and social class uses correlation coefficients to test the relative impact of those two variables and other significant factors, such as, N-achievement, parental encouragement and friend's encouragement for further education, on educational aspirations and occupational expectations.

On a rather tentative basis the study is given a cross-cultural dimension by adding two smaller samples from India and the United States to discover whether the disparity between males' and females' career choices varies from one society to another, dependent upon the individual's socio-economic position and upon women's participation in the labour force of that society.

Publication Type: Report
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Education
Series Name: Western Australian Career Development Project; Report No. 2
Publisher: Murdoch University
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