Occupational Aspirations in STEM fields




Men are underrepresented in the studies and occupations within the fields of humanities and social sciences. However, women are more likely to concentrate in lower status and power STEM –Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics– professions and positions and other low status non-STEM professions (Eccles, 2007). In this regard, young women in Spain account for the 26.27{973f38f2103d51d876dca70e6831e30c6a586ba395c130b41c97ba08f8704c0a} of the university enrolments in technological fields (Instituto de la Mujer, 2013). But they are also highly represented in the studies of humanities (63.56{973f38f2103d51d876dca70e6831e30c6a586ba395c130b41c97ba08f8704c0a}), social sciences (60.85{973f38f2103d51d876dca70e6831e30c6a586ba395c130b41c97ba08f8704c0a}), health (71.36{973f38f2103d51d876dca70e6831e30c6a586ba395c130b41c97ba08f8704c0a}) and natural sciences (54.2{973f38f2103d51d876dca70e6831e30c6a586ba395c130b41c97ba08f8704c0a}).

Gender differences in career choice emerge in secondary education, when adolescents make academic decisions that will condition their future in many different ways. What motivates secondary students’ decisions to pursue STEM and non-STEM subjects and studies? Self-concept of domain ability has been regarded as a strong motivational factor involved in different academic and career-choice related decisions (Eccles, 1994; Marsh, 1986; Pajares and Miller, 1994; Wigfield and Eccles, 2000; among other authors). It is an important multidimensional construct that conditions achievement, which is also influenced by social comparison, causal attributions, appraisals from significant others, and mastery experiences.

The main objective of this research seminar is therefore to examine secondary students’ evaluation of their ability in some of the main areas of secondary education and how it predicts gendered patterns of study choices in STEM and non-STEM fields. The focus of the analysis will revolve around the relationship between performance and ability self-concepts regarding STEM and non-STEM subject areas, gender differences in performance and self-concepts of ability in the different STEM and non-STEM subject areas.

Speaker: Milagros Sáinz
Venue: IN3 – MediaTIC building
Tuesday, 28 May 2013 10.30 h – 12.30 h

This presentation is part of a research grant financed by former Ministry of Science and Technology (Plan Nacional I+D+I, FEM2011-24117) entitled “The gender gap in the studies of science, technology, computing and language: secondary students’ and teachers’ expectations and motivations”.

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