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Title:The Female Occupational Selection Process: Atypicality of Occupational Choice
Author(s):Appelbaum, Laura Ruth
Department / Program:Sociology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Sociology of
Abstract:The purpose of this dissertation is to develop a model of atypical occupational choice for women. Briefly, atypicality of an occupation for women is defined as the percentage of males engaged in a particular job classification. Occupational atypicality is conceptualized as a continuum, ranging from values of zero to 100 percent and along which any given occupation can be placed. Since sex segregation is most prevalent among college graduates, a sample of female college graduates would provide an excellent opportunity for studying female success in male occupations. The National Opinion Research Center (NORC) longitudinal study of 1961 college graduates provides a sample of 1799 women, over half of whom are occupationally active seven years after college graduation.
I test the following general hypotheses about women's occupational choice. First, women enter traditionally male occupations as a result of exceptional socialization, that is, because their childhood and educational experiences have been unusual for women. Second, the women themselves are exceptional, that is, their academic performance and motivation to succeed professionally were unusual for men or women. It is possible to determine how these effects persist over time, as a woman's occupational choice is followed in 1962, 1964, and 1968 -- one, three, and seven years after college graduation. This allows me to distinguish the impact of education beyond the college level and of initial job experience on subsequent occupational atypicality.
Results include the difference in the occupational outcomes of women employed one, three, and seven years after college graduation. For women who were working in 1968, occupation seven years after college graduation more closely approximated freshman and senior occupational aspirations than did earlier jobs. Women employed in 1968 were also in more "male" occupations than women employed in earlier years; they more successfully converted occupational plans, college performance, occupational experience and graduate education into an atypical occupation. An interval of seven years after college graduation permitted some women to complete a graduate degree or to gain sufficient work experience to be promoted from entry level to more specialized, responsible positions.
There was a strong pattern of stability in occupational plans and choice among women training in typically "female" fields. Women with "male" aspirations tended to choose occupations which were less traditional and therefore more "male" than teaching, although specific occupational outcomes fell within a broad range of "maleness". Since these effects are net of other factors, it appears that, despite a progressive narrowing of possibilities, career course can be redirected within a fairly broad latitude as late as senior year in college.
There was a considerable return in occupational atypicality for earning a graduate or professional degree. Women are forced to trade graduate education and experience for the opportunities normally immediately available to male college graduates. In general, increasing education makes getting a professional level job -- that is, a job which uses one's education and training -- more likely.
The results from the present study of female occupational choice one, three, and seven years after college graduation provide comprehensive portraits of women working in the 1960's, and pinpoint impediments to and facilitators of atypical occupational choice. In addition to suggesting optimal times for intervention as well as strategies for increasing the "maleness" of female occupational goals, these findings can be used as a basis for comparison with results from more current research.
Issue Date:1980
Description:217 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1980.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8017914
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-14
Date Deposited:1980

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