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Soc. Sci. 2016, 5(1), 5; doi:10.3390/socsci5010005

From Athletes to Astrophysicists: Gender Differences in Patterns and Predictors of Career Aspirations in Pre-Adolescence

1
Department of Sociology, Indiana University, Ballantine Hall 744, 1020 East Kirkwood Ave., Bloomington, IN 47405, USA
2
Department of Sociology, University of Kentucky, 1569 Patterson Office Tower, Lexington, KY 40506, USA
3
Department of Sociology & Criminal Justice, Kennesaw State University, 402 Bartow Ave, Kennesaw, GA 30144, USA
4
Department of Behavioral Science, University of Kentucky, 111 Medical Behavioral Science Building, Lexington, KY 40506, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Martin J. Bull
Received: 6 October 2015 / Revised: 21 December 2015 / Accepted: 18 January 2016 / Published: 28 January 2016
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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. View Full-Text
Keywords: career aspirations; gender differences; masculinity; intersectionality; middle school career aspirations; gender differences; masculinity; intersectionality; middle school
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Perry, B.L.; Morris, E.W.; Link, T.C.; Leukefeld, C. From Athletes to Astrophysicists: Gender Differences in Patterns and Predictors of Career Aspirations in Pre-Adolescence. Soc. Sci. 2016, 5, 5.

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