Girls like Pink: Explaining Sex-Typed Occupational Aspirations amongst Young Children
AbstractThere is a high degree of sex-typing in young children's occupational aspirations and this has consequences for subsequent occupational segregation. Sociologists typically attribute early sex- differences in occupational preferences to gender socialization. Yet we still know surprisingly little about the mechanisms involved in the intergenerational transmission of sex-typical preferences and there is considerable theoretical controversy regarding the role of individual agency in the process of preference formation. This study analyzes the determinants of sex-typed occupational aspirations amongst British children aged between 11 and 15. We specify different mechanisms involved in the transmission of sex-typical preferences and propose an innovative definition of individual agency that is anchored in observable psychological traits linked to self-direction. This allows us to perform a simultaneous test of socialization and agency predictors of occupational sex-typing. We find that parental influences on occupational preferences operate mainly through three distinctive channels: 1) the effect that parental socio-economic resources have on the scope of children's occupational aspirations, 2) children's direct imitation of parental occupations, and 3) children's learning of sex- typed roles via the observation of parental behavior. We also find a strong net effect of children's own psychological predispositions -self-esteem in particular- on the incidence of sex-typical occupational preferences. Yet large differences in the occupational aspirations of girls and boys remain unexplained.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC) in its series UFAE and IAE Working Papers with number 844.10.
Date of creation: 14 Oct 2010
Date of revision:
Gender Segregation; Occupational Aspirations; Children; Socialization; Agency; Personality Traits; Mechanisms; British Household Panel Survey;
Other versions of this item:
- Javier G. Polavieja & Lucinda Platt, 2010. "Girls like pink: Explaining sex-typed occupational aspirations amongst young children," Working Papers 2010-19, Instituto Madrileño de Estudios Avanzados (IMDEA) Ciencias Sociales.
- J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
- J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
- J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
- Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Social and Economic Stratification
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2010-10-23 (All new papers)
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