Typical and atypical occupational aspiration regarding gender and socioeconomic status

Schorlemmer, Julia (2015). Typical and atypical occupational aspiration regarding gender and socioeconomic status. (Dissertation, Freie Universität Berlin)

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The choice of an occupation is considered to be an important developmental task in the course of life. During occupational orientation, children and adolescents deal with this decision in form of occupational aspirations. In the scope of this work, typical and atypical occupational aspirations of children and adolescents were studied regarding gender and socioeconomic status (SES). Based on the Theory of Circumscription and Compromise (Gottfredson, 1981, 1996, 2002) gender and SES were identified as determining dimensions for a fit between the person and the career aspiration. Questions were developed on the effects of individual psychological characteristics for typical and atypical career aspirations based on the Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) (Lent & Brown, 1996) and more general psychological theories such as theories about self-concepts, academic self-perception as well as motivational and goal theories (e.g Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara, & Pastorelli, 2001; Bong & Skaalvik, 2003; Wicklund & Gollwitzer, 1982; Oettingen, 1997). The two focus research areas, typical and atypical occupational aspirations, were examined in three empirical studies: Study I examined for children and adolescents whether a matching between person and occupation existed for the dimensions gender and SES. The results showed that gender determines the occupational aspirations: boys see themselves in more masculine professions than girls. The relationship between gender and gender connotation is moderated by the SES and the grade in German classes. The results showed that the school type, but not the individual SES predicts the occupational aspirations of children and adolescents. Since all analyses were performed by means of multi-level models, the particular importance of the classroom as a social learning environment for occupational development could be exposed. Study II was dedicated to the analysis of the group of adolescents whose occupational aspirations are socially upward directed. On the one hand the results suggest, that the positive involvement with the future (possible selves) is crucial in determining whether occupational aspirations are chosen in deviation of the individual´s SES. On the other hand it can be deduced from the results, that adolescents choose atypical occupational aspirations due to good achievements and the perception of these skills because they make an active link between educational success and occupational options. Study III examined three psychological mechanisms that explain the motivation to choose an atypical social upward directed occupational aspiration: 1. the occupation as a positive imagination of the future, 2. the salience of the (low) SES conveyed a desire to compensate for this low SES with a high professional status, or 3. the mental contrast between positive aspects of high status occupational aspiration and (negative) real life requirements for the profession implies a realistic and thus motivated attitude. The results supported previous findings on the overall importance of mental contrasting on motivation for achievement and acknowledge the usefulness of a transfer of the paradigm to the achievement of career goals. The dissertation implicates that the aim of future practical interventions and career counseling is to look at children and adolescents in their professional development holistically and to raise awareness for the importance of the categories gender and SES, as well as their effects on individual processes in the career choice. The findings emphasize the need to remove social inequalities in terms of gender and social origin at a political level.

Item Type:

Thesis (Dissertation)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Sociology


Freie Universität


[1036] Transitions from Education to Employment (TREE) Official URL




Thomas Meyer

Date Deposited:

29 Oct 2019 12:23

Last Modified:

05 Jun 2020 10:31



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