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Of Men and Money: Characteristics of Occupations that Affect the Gender Differentiation of Children’s Occupational Interests


Occupational interests become gender differentiated during childhood and remain so among adults. Two characteristics of occupations may contribute to this differentiation: the gender of individuals who typically perform the occupation (workers’ gender) and the particular goals that the occupation allows one to fulfill, such as the opportunity to help others or acquire power (value affordances). Two studies tested hypotheses about whether U.S. 6- to 11-year-olds show gender differences in their interest in novel jobs that were depicted as (a) being performed by men versus women and (b) affording money, power, family, or helping values. In Study 1, 98 children rank-ordered their preferences for experimentally-manipulated novel jobs, and they answered questions about their occupational values and the value affordances of jobs in which men and women typically work. In Study 2, a second sample of 65 children was used to test the replicability of findings from Study 1. As hypothesized, children were more interested in jobs depicted with same- than other-gender workers in both studies. Boys showed greater interest than did girls in novel jobs depicted as affording money in Study 1, but not Study 2. Explicit knowledge that men and women typically work in jobs that afford differing values increased with participants’ age.

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This research was supported in part by a summer research grant received by the first author from the Debra Beth Lobliner Fellowship at the University of Texas at Austin. The researchers would like to thank the children and families who participated in this research for their time. A portion of this work was presented at the biennial conference of the Society for Research in Child Development, April 2011, Montreal, Quebec.

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Correspondence to Amy Roberson Hayes.

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All coauthors are in agreement with the content of the manuscript. This research has been conducted and prepared in accordance with the ethical standards of the American Psychological Association and the Society for Research in Child Development.

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Hayes, A.R., Bigler, R.S. & Weisgram, E.S. Of Men and Money: Characteristics of Occupations that Affect the Gender Differentiation of Children’s Occupational Interests. Sex Roles 78, 775–788 (2018).

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