The Positive and Negative Valence of Gender in Traditional and Non-Traditional Career Choices

Callahan, Megan
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Women and men tend to be differentially represented in many careers, in spite of reductions in structural barriers to the advancement of women and in overt sexism. Women are often overrepresented in traditionally feminine careers. Careers populated mainly by women also tend to be lower in pay and prestige. The present study continued an exploration of various gender-related barriers to more equal representation of women and men in careers. Specifically, perceptions of the femininity and masculinity of the RIASEC types (Holland, 1959; 1997) and positive/negative ratings of the RIASEC types were examined. In addition, covariates representing sexism and conservatism (right-wing authoritarianism and religious fundamentalism) were included to determine their impact. Participants were 509 university students who completed questionnaires and a sorting activity in which they assigned feminine and masculine traits from the Bem Sex Role Inventory (Bem, 1981), the Personal Attributes Questionnaire (Spence & Helmreich, 1978), and the Positive-Negative Sex Role Inventory (Berger & Krahà  à ©, 2013) to occupational descriptions representing the RIASEC types. Participants also rated their attitudes to traits assigned to descriptions. MANOVA and MANCOVA were used and gender and condition were found to have significant effects on the perceptions of the RIASEC types, while only gender was found to have a significant effect on positive/negative ratings of the RIASEC types. The sexism and conservatism covariates were found to have significant effects with both perceptions of and attitudes toward the RIASEC types. These results are discussed in light of other research and implications for further research and career counseling.

Attitude, Authoritarianism, Career, Gender, Religious fundamentalism