Women’s Work? Predictors of Young Men’s Aspirations for Entering Traditionally Female-dominated Occupations


The purpose of this study was to extend Gottfredson’s (1981) theory of circumscription and compromise by examining how gender role attitudes, peers, educational aspirations, family background, race/ethnicity, and labor market factors predict the degree to which young men aspired toward more (or less) female-dominated occupations. Two waves of data from male respondents to the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR), a nationally representative dataset of U.S. teens, were analyzed (N = 1,157). Most independent variables were obtained from the first wave of data, conducted in 2002 to 2003, when the young men were between the ages of 13 and 17. Occupational aspirations were obtained from the second wave, conducted in 2005, when the young men were ages 16 to 21. Two methodological approaches were utilized. A logistic regression predicted the odds of male respondents aspiring to a female-dominated occupation compared to a male-dominated occupation. An ordinary least squares regression predicted the percentage of current jobholders who were female in the respondents’ aspired occupations. Findings revealed that the proportion of one’s friends who were female, parental educational attainment, and the projected growth of an occupation were positively correlated with aspiring toward female-dominated occupations and the percent femaleness of those occupations. The median income of an occupation was negatively associated with aspiring toward female-dominated occupations and the percent femaleness of those occupations. Educational aspirations, holding conservative gender role attitudes, and being Black were associated with the percent of female job incumbents but not the likelihood of aspiring to a female-dominated occupation.

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Correspondence to Jessica Halliday Hardie.

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Hardie, J.H. Women’s Work? Predictors of Young Men’s Aspirations for Entering Traditionally Female-dominated Occupations. Sex Roles 72, 349–362 (2015).

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  • Gender
  • Aspirations
  • Masculinity
  • Occupations
  • Sex segregation