Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Gender Differences in Holland Vocational Personality Types: Implications for School Counselors

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Gender Differences in Holland Vocational Personality Types: Implications for School Counselors

Article excerpt

The vocational development of inner-city adolescents is often impaired by a number of factors. These factors include a lack of opportunity related to low socioeconomic status (41.6% of all Americans who live in poverty live in the inner cities; Dreier, 2004); lower high school graduation rates, with overall graduation rates of inner-city adolescents less than 50% (Greene, 2002); less access to working role models (Fleischer & Dressner, 2002); less exposure to direct career experience; and less access to information regarding career options (Turner & Lapan, 2003). Further, researchers have shown that restricted patterns of career aspirations among inner-city adolescents appear as early as middle school, with these young people having less variability in their interest patterns, and with ethnic minority inner-city adolescents having greater interests in less prestigious but potentially more available occupations such as manual labor or outdoor work (Turner & Lapan). Finding ways to assist inner-city young people to participate in meaningful career development activities may help ameliorate some of the challenges they face as they seek to prepare for and embark upon their life's work.

The American School Counselor Association supports school counselors' efforts to help students focus on academic, personal/social, and career development so they achieve success in school and are prepared to lead fulfilling lives as responsible members of society. One primary way of assisting young people's career development is by helping them understand their own intrinsic interests and abilities through self-exploration and career exploration. The most frequently used classification system guiding this exploration is Holland's (1997) theory of vocational personality types and work environments.

Holland's (1997) theory defines vocational personalities as those aspects of one's character that are stable, prominent, and exhibited across a wide range of important career, social, and personal contexts. According to Holland, there are six vocational personality types: Realistic (R), Investigative (I), Artistic (A), Social (S), Enterprising (E), and Conventional (C). People have unique combinations of these six types, although most people can be described by a single most prominent type, with other types providing moderating influences on their behavior and preferences. In brief, people with Realistic personalities tend to prefer working with machines, tools, plants, or animals. People with Investigative personalities tend to have interest in math and science. People with Artistic personalities tend to have artistic, innovational, intuitional, and aesthetic interests. People with Social personalities tend to be motivated by altruism across the variety of contexts that make up their lives. People with Enterprising personalities tend to enjoy influencing, leading, managing, and persuading. People with Conventional personalities like to work with data and numbers.

People with specific vocational personality types are attracted to activities and occupations associated with those types, and they demonstrate behavioral repertoires, patterns of likes and dislikes, and concordant attitudes and values that support their developing interests (Holland, 1997). For example, people with an Enterprising personality might believe that the sales profession is valuable and important to the economy and the welfare of humankind. Additionally, people who make vocational, social, and leisure choices that are congruent with their Holland vocational personality types experience greater life satisfaction than do people who make choices that are less congruent (Holland).

There are several views of how vocational personalities develop. Holland (1997) hypothesized that vocational personalities are formed as young people become familiar with their own abilities, develop competencies in accordance with those abilities, and begin to understand their own innate interests in various types of activities and occupations. …

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