Social or Economic Goals? : The Professional Goal Orientation of Students Enrolled in STEM and Non-STEM Majors in University

Faculty/Professorship: Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi) ; Psychology of Teaching and Learning at School  
Author(s): Wolter, Ilka  ; Ehrtmann, Lisa; Seidel, Tina; Drechsel, Barbara  
Publisher Information: Bamberg : Otto-Friedrich-Universität
Year of publication: 2022
Pages: 11
Source/Other editions: Frontiers in Psychology, 10 (2019), 11 S. - ISSN: 1664-1078
is version of: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02065
Year of first publication: 2019
Language(s): English
Licence: Creative Commons - CC BY - Attribution 4.0 International 
URN: urn:nbn:de:bvb:473-irb-537356
Various studies try to disentangle the gender-specific competencies or decisions that lead to a career in a STEM field and try to find a way to encourage more women to pursue this kind of career. The present study examines differences in the meaning of work (i.e., their professional goal orientation) of students who are enrolled in STEM or non-STEM programs in tertiary education. Based on the background that gender stereotypes associate women and men with communal or agentic roles respectively, we expected that women in STEM subjects differ in their professional goal orientation from women in non-STEM programs. More precisely, women who are enrolled in a STEM major are expected to be less oriented to social and communal goal orientations than women in non-STEM university programs. In a sample of 5,857 second-year university students of the German National Educational Panel Study, three profiles of professional goal orientation were confirmed in a latent profile analysis. As expected, women were more oriented toward social aspects of occupations, whereas men more likely belonged to a profile with high importance for economic aspects of occupations. Moreover, students enrolled in STEM programs more likely belonged to the profile of economic goal orientation. There was, however, no interaction of gender and STEM program: Women in STEM fields did not differ in their occupational goal orientation from women enrolled in non-STEM programs. Based on these findings and on a goal congruity perspective, future interventions aiming at overcoming the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields should consider the individual meaning of work and the goals that are associated with STEM occupations.
GND Keywords: Berufsorientierung; Berufswunsch; Geschlechterstereotyp
Keywords: STEM, goal orientation, latent profile analysis, university students, gender stereotypes, meaning of work
DDC Classification: 150 Psychology  
RVK Classification: DH 1000   
Type: Article
Release Date: 27. May 2022

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