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Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(1), 2; doi:10.3390/socsci6010002

Planning a Career in Engineering: Parental Effects on Sons and Daughters

1
Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, 3718 Locust Walk, McNeil Building, Rm. 113, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6299, USA
2
Harvard Strategic Data Partnership Fellow, Delaware Department of Education, The Townsend Building, 401 Federal Street, Suite 2, Dover, DE 19901-3639, USA
3
Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1521, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Maria Charles and Sarah Thébaud
Received: 20 July 2016 / Revised: 6 October 2016 / Accepted: 23 December 2016 / Published: 4 January 2017
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Abstract

This paper examines the extent to which prospective engineers follow in their parents’ footsteps. Specifically, we investigate the connection between fathers’ and mothers’ employment in the engineering profession and the career plans of sons and daughters. We develop a number of reasons to expect an occupation-specific intergenerational association in this field, as well as hypotheses regarding gender-specific role-modeling. Data are drawn from the UCLA HERI Freshman Survey data spanning 1971 to 2011. The results point to clear and substantial effects on sons and daughters’ plans to pursue engineering, connections that cannot be explained by typical pathways such as social background, education and values. The evidence points to a pattern of increasing salience of mothers with respect to the career plans of their children, especially their daughters. The implications of these findings for the under-representation of women in engineering and for gender-specific family dynamics are discussed in the conclusion. View Full-Text
Keywords: gender; STEM fields; career choices; college majors; occupational mobility gender; STEM fields; career choices; college majors; occupational mobility
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Jacobs, J.A.; Ahmad, S.; Sax, L.J. Planning a Career in Engineering: Parental Effects on Sons and Daughters. Soc. Sci. 2017, 6, 2.

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