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Gender Differences in the Prioritization of Occupational Values Among American Young Adults

Sat, April 5, 10:35am to 12:05pm, Convention Center, Floor: 200 Level, 204A


To investigate differentiation and prioritization of occupational values among men and women.

Perspective/theoretical framework
Gender differences in occupational values are prevalent in the psychological literature and have been shown to have significant effects on children’s and adults’ sex-typed career interests (Weisgram, Bigler, & Liben, 2010). In a meta-analysis, Konrad et al. (2000) demonstrated that men prefer jobs that have a high salary, high status, power, and opportunities for advancement. Women prefer jobs that allow them to be social and help others. However, much research has found that both men and women endorse many of these values at a high level (Weisgram, Dinella, & Fulcher, 2011), yet most jobs only fulfil a few values. Thus, further research must investigate the prioritized values that men and women endorse. In this study, we use Li’s (2002) Budget Allocation Method to investigate gender differences and similarities in values.

Participants (N=160; 89 women) were recruited from introductory psychology classes at a Midwestern American university. Participants completed an online survey assessing (a) occupational values and (b) stereotypes of familiar occupations. We assessed personal endorsement of values in a zero-sum fashion using Li’s Budget Allocation Method (Li, et al., 2002).

Students were given a list of 5 feminine values (e.g., forming friendships, family time, helping others), 5 masculine values (e.g., power, prestige, high salary), and 5 neutral values (e.g., creativity, variety) and description of each value. Then they were given a budget of $10 to “spend” on these job characteristics to comprise their ideal job, wherein each job characteristic cost $1 (to be spent in whole units). Participants were allowed to spend their budget however they chose. For example, they could spend their entire budget on one trait (meaning that their ideal job would have extremely high levels of only one characteristic), or evenly distribute their budget (meaning that all characteristics were equally desirable or important but present at low/moderate levels). Participants were asked to repeat the survey with a $30 budget. They also completed a measure of endorsement of gender stereotypes (Liben & Bigler, 2002, OAT-AM)

A 2(gender) x 2(stereotyping level) MANOVA was performed with the amount of money allocated to each of the values as the dependent variables. For the low budget, results indicated a significant main effect of gender, F(1,156)=2.16, p<.05; Wilk's λ=0.81. Men allocated more money than women toward prestige; women allocated more money than men toward altruism, social values, and forming friendships. Overall, women allocated the most money to high salary, altruism and family values; men allocated the most money to family values, altruism and creativity. Results followed a similar pattern for the high budget survey.

This study extends further research on occupational values by investigating men’s and women’s prioritization of occupational value and demonstrates that gender differences are present, but also that the top prioritized values are similar among men and women.