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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01243

Gendered Paths into STEM-related and Language-related Careers: Girls’ and Boys’ Motivational Beliefs and Career Plans in Math and Language Arts

 Rebecca Lazarides1* and Fani Lauermann2
  • 1Universität Potsdam, Germany
  • 2University of Bonn, Germany

Women are often underrepresented in math-intensive fields like science, technology, engineering and mathematics. By comparison, boys relative to girls are less likely to strive for jobs in social and human services domains. Relatively few studies have considered that intra-individual comparisons across domains may contribute to gendered occupational choices. This study examines whether girls’ and boys’ motivational beliefs in mathematics and language arts are predictive of their career plans in these fields. The study focusses on same domain and cross-domain effects and investigates bidirectional relations between motivational beliefs and career plans. Data stemmed from 1,117 ninth and tenth graders (53.2% girls) from secondary schools in Berlin, Germany. Findings show systematic gender differences in same domain effects in mathematics: girls’ comparatively lower mathematics self-concept and intrinsic value predicted a lower likelihood of striving for a math-related career. Cross-domain effects were not related to gender-specific career plans, with only one exception. Girls’ lower levels of intrinsic value in mathematics corresponded to a higher likelihood of striving for a career in language-related fields, which subsequently predicted lower levels of intrinsic value in mathematics. This finding points to a need to address both gender-specific motivational beliefs and gender-specific career plans in school when aiming to enhance more gender equality in girls’ and boys’ occupational choices.

Keywords: Gendered motivational beliefs, career plans, Mathematics, language-related domains, Dimensional comparison

Received: 03 Dec 2018; Accepted: 10 May 2019.

Edited by:

Carl Senior, Aston University, United Kingdom

Reviewed by:

Uner Tan, Çukurova University, Turkey
Malte Jansen, Institute for Educational Quality Improvement (IQB), Germany  

Copyright: © 2019 Lazarides and Lauermann. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Rebecca Lazarides, Universität Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany,