Sex Roles

, Volume 23, Issue 9, pp 471-490

First online:

Determining career orientations in women from different social-class backgrounds

  • Millicent PooleAffiliated withFaculty of Education, Monash University
  • , Janice Langan-FoxAffiliated withFaculty of Education, Monash University
  • , Mary OmodeiAffiliated withUniversity of Melbourne

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This study examines career orientations in women from high- and low-socioeconomic status backgrounds, using a longitudinal data set collected over a period of 10 years, from 1973 to 1982. When first contacted, respondents were 18 years of age. The final data collection in 1982 resulted in a sample of some 1300 women. The longitudinal data were analyzed using LISREL structural equation modeling and were guided by a theoretical framework developed by Krumboltz (1981) which focuses on the process of decision-making. Results from the study indicated that there were effects of social-class background in the development of women's career orientations, over the secondary school-early career development stage. Group differences in determinants of orientation were found for political attitudes, occupational interests, senior school achievement, and professional attainment. Differences were also found in the influence of motivational tendencies and work satisfaction on model variables for the two groups of women. The benefit of the decision-making theoretical framework and its further development for use in studies of career development generally are discussed.