What motivates females and males to pursue careers in mathematics and science?

From International Journal of Behavioral Development

Although the gender gap in math and science course-taking and performance in many countries has narrowed in recent decades, females continue to be underrepresented in mathematics, physical, engineering, and computer sciences (MPECS). Drawing on Eccles’ expectancy-value model of achievement-related choices, this study examines the personal aptitudes and motivational beliefs at 12th grade that move individuals toward or away from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) occupations at age 29. Eccles proposes that achievement related choices such as educational and occupational selection are most directly influenced by intellectual competencies, ability self-concepts, expectations for success and the subjective task values (STVs) attached to the various options. Career choices are made within the context of a complex social reality that presents each individual with a wide variety of choices.

Abstract

Drawing on Eccles’ expectancy-value model of achievement-related choices, we examined the personal aptitudes and motivational beliefs at 12th grade that move individuals toward or away from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) occupations at age 29. In the first set of analyses, occupational and lifestyle values, math ability self-concepts, family demographics, and high school course-taking more strongly predicted both individual and gender differences in the likelihood of entering STEM careers than math scores on the Differential Aptitude Test. In the second set of analyses, individual and gender differences in career decisions within STEM disciplines (health, biological, and medical sciences (HBMS) versus mathematics, physical, engineering, and computer sciences (MPECS)) were best predicted by occupational values (i.e. preferences for work that were people oriented and altruistic predicted entrance into HBMS instead of MPECS careers). Females were less likely to hold the beliefs that predicted selection of STEM in general, but those who did choose STEM were more likely to select HBMS than MPECS. One Sentence Summary: Gender differences in selecting STEM related and health, biological, and medical occupations result primarily from gender differences in occupational and lifestyle values.

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Article detaiis
Jacquelynne S. Eccles and Ming-Te Wang
What motivates females and males to pursue careers in mathematics and science?
International Journal of Behavioral Development 0165025415616201, first published on November 22, 2015 doi:10.1177/0165025415616201

 

 

 

 

     
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