Gender Role Congruity Theory predicts that women would be more attracted to masculine-stereotyped occupations and men would be more attracted to feminine-stereotyped occupations if the occupations were perceived as affording goals that aligned with their gender roles. This study of college STEM (science technology engineering, and mathematics) students systematically examined the impact of occupation stereotypes and life goals related to career status, family, and helping others on career interest. Participants, drawn from introductory STEM classes (N = 186, 88 female) at a public university in the Southeastern U.S., indicated their preferences between pairs of occupations that differed in their gender stereotype. Within each occupation pair, one occupation was described as compatible with one of three goals (high salary, family-friendly, and helping others). A 1 year follow-up was conducted on 148 of the original and an additional 52 new participants (N = 200, 103 female). Results indicated that men showed greater interest in masculine occupations, regardless of the goal affordance of the alternative feminine occupation. For women, occupations with higher salaries received greater interest ratings than occupations associated with helping others (masculine or feminine stereotyped) and family friendly work hours (masculine stereotyped only). For women, family-friendly occupations were rated similarly to higher salary occupations, only in the feminine-stereotyped conditions. Findings were generally replicated at the second time point. These counterintuitive findings suggest the need for research to examine how gender differences in life goals change over the early adult years for women and men in STEM and other fields.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 9, 2015
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