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Title:Determinants of Choice of College Major Among Women and Men: Comparisons of Cohorts in the Late 1960s and 1970s (Sex Differences)
Author(s):Han, Kee-Ok Kim
Department / Program:Human Resources and Family Studies
Discipline:Human Resources and Family Studies
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Home Economics
Education, Social Sciences
Abstract:The primary purpose of this study is to examine factors related to the choice of college major among young women. The study compares a cohort of women in the late 1970s with one in the late 1960s to explain the dramatic increase in the relative representation of women in nontraditional fields during the 1970s. This study also examines samples of men in the late 1960s and 1970s to analyze sex differences in the determinants of the choice of college major. The data are taken from three of the National Longitudinal Surveys (NLS) of Labor Market Experience: (1) the NLS of Youth ages 14 to 21 in 1979; (2) the NLS of Young Women ages 14 to 24 in 1968; and (3) the NLS of Young Men ages 14 to 24 in 1966. College major is specified as a function of aspirations for market work and home work and of personal characteristics such as family background, race, and attitudes toward women's roles. The equations are estimated by three statistical methods: (1) ordinary least squares (OLS); (2) multinomial logit maximum likelihood (MLML); and (3) trichotomous (or ordered) logit maximum likelihood (TLML).
It is found that in the past, women from low income families and money-oriented women tended to choose male-dominated fields; today, however, women from high income families and those with aspirations for high earning occupations tend to choose nontraditional fields. Among women in the late 1960s, those who intended to be working at age 35 chose female-dominated fields, whereas a decade later work aspirations had no significant impact on choice of major field. In addition, family-related variables such as expectations of early marriage and high fertility are positively related to the choice of female-dominated fields among the older cohort, but not the younger cohort.
Comparisons between males and females show a decrease in sex differences over time. In the late 1960s aspirations for high earning occupations pushed men toward male-dominated fields and women toward female-dominated fields, but in the late 1970s both women and men chose male-dominated fields. In the older cohort, high family income influenced both women and men to choose college majors traditionally proper for their sexes; high family income in the younger cohort had an equal effect on both sexes toward male fields.
In sum, the rapid increase in enrollment by women in male-dominated fields of study during the 1970s is explained in large part by their increased aspirations for better-paying occupations. This study clearly shows that the aspirations of today's women are changing toward nontraditional roles in the society.
Issue Date:1985
Description:192 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1985.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8600202
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-16
Date Deposited:1985

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