High school students' career aspirations: influences of gender stereotypes, parents, and the school environment Public Deposited

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  • April 28, 2022
  • Copping, Kristine E.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Gender disparities in STEM-related career fields may be the result of broadly held traditional stereotypes about girls' and boys' academic abilities (i.e., girls are better in English than boys and boys are better in math and science than girls), as well as gender-differentiated experiences in the home and school environment. In line with expectancy-value theory, I examined predictors of youths' domain-specific motivational beliefs and career aspirations. Tenth grade adolescents (182 girls, 136 boys) completed questionnaires about academic gender stereotypes, academic motivation, felt pressure, academic gender discrimination, parental support, intended college majors, and career aspirations regarding the academic domains of math, science, and English. Students' parents (N = 160) reported their own academic gender stereotypes and their beliefs about their children's future educational and career choices. Gender differences consistent with traditional stereotypes were found in students' reports of motivational beliefs and academic intentions, primarily in the domains of math and English. Whereas parents of girls reported traditional English stereotypes and egalitarian math and science stereotypes, parents of boys reported traditional beliefs across all three domains. Although youths' reports of academic motivation (i.e., domain-specific self-concept, importance, and interest) were consistently related to future intentions in theoretically consistent ways, the anticipated relations between these motivational beliefs and felt pressure from parents (to behave in gender-traditional ways) were not found. Some of the hypothesized relations linking students' stereotype endorsement, motivational beliefs, and career intentions were found for math and English, but not for science. Across all three academic domains, parent support was indirectly related to students' plans for the future, and these relationships were mediated by the youths' reports of academic motivation. Overall, reports of gender-based academic discrimination were infrequent. Implications for parents and school-based motivational interventions are discussed, as well as suggestions for future research.
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  • "... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Psychology (Developmental)."
  • Kurtz-Costes, Beth
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  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

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