Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Young Women's Work Values and Role Salience in Grade 11: Are There Changes Three Years Later?

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Young Women's Work Values and Role Salience in Grade 11: Are There Changes Three Years Later?

Article excerpt

Eleventh graders participated in a longitudinal study of career decision making in which they completed a series of career-related inventories and followup interviews. There was little change in work-related values between the 2 administrations of the Values Scale (G.W. Fitzsimmons, D. Macnab, & C. Casserly, 1985); however, greater variation occurred on the Salience Inventory (G. W. Fitzsimmons et al., 1985), particularly Role Value Implementation. Role salience seems less stable than values, perhaps reflecting the transition from high school to postsecondary education or the world of work. Implications for D. E. Super's (1981, 1990, 1994, 1995) theory of career development and applications to career counseling are outlined.

This study of young women's career decision making is part of a larger, longitudinal investigation of how young women with a declared interest in science and high achievement in science courses pursued their original field of interest and made their career choices following graduation from high schools in western Canada. Career development has been studied extensively, but few longitudinal studies have been reported in the literature, and there is little reference to young women's career development.

Among the earliest longitudinal initiatives was Super's (1994) Career Pattern Study (CPS) in which 100 men were followed from age 14 through 50 years. Reflecting on the results of the CPS, Super (1994) noted the support for a developmental approach to career development and choice. In 1995, Super called for further "longitudinal studies of what people seek and what they find . . . there is much room for further work on the predictive validity of values for occupational choice, stability, and satisfaction" (p. 60). This study begins to address those issues.

Farmer and associates (1997) reported results from a three-phase longitudinal study of 2,082 young men and women in Grades 9-12. Initial data from Phases 1 and 2 showed that the most important predictor of young women's persistence in science was their ability in high school science courses. In a review of sociocultural issues and career development, Fitzgerald and Betz (1994) showed that gender-related factors are associated with negative effects on young women's career aspirations. Complicating the picture are findings that showed commitment, participation, and knowledge of occupations to be relatively independent of each other, especially in adolescence (Logan, 1995; Logan & Shears, 1995).

Therefore, career development for young women in particular is a complex issue that may involve developmental, social, and educational elements. It is likely that adolescence places different stresses (e.g., developmental, gender-role expectations) on young women than it does on young men; this occurs just as high schools demand students' clarity regarding a future field of study and a specific career emphasis. There is a need to study issues surrounding young women's career decision making when academic ability and a declared career interest are both known.

Super's (1980, 1981, 1990) developmental perspective "attaches primary importance to career stage, career maturity, the translation of self-concept into a vocational identity, and life role salience" (Lent & Hackett, 1994, p. 96). Because each of these elements was important in the context of young women's career decisions, Super's (1994) "life-span, life-space" perspective provided an appropriate theoretical framework for this longitudinal study.

In a later refinement of his theory, Super (1994) drew upon the theoretical and empirical work of other social scientists in his concept of an "archway of career determinants." The systematic influence of personal, social, and economic forces that shape a person's needs, values, and interests will have an impact on their career choices and level of achievement. Despite the influence of external forces, Super continued to stress the importance of "the person, the self' as the "decision maker" and the critical role that learning experiences play in vocational development and career choice. …

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