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Are Gender Differences in Vocational Interests Universal?: Moderating Effects of Cultural Dimensions


Are men and women more similar or different in their interests in careers? This question has propelled decades of research into the association between gender and vocational interests. However, our understanding of this question in an international context remains limited. In this study, we examined gender differences in vocational interests across national and cultural contexts by exploring whether national cultural dimensions would be associated with gender differences in the structure and mean levels of vocational interests in people/things, ideas/data, and prestige. Our findings support similarity in the structure of vocational interests for men and women across 42 countries based on two major models on interests. General trends of gender differences in interests emerge such that in comparison to men, women tend to report a large preference for working with people (versus things; d = 1.04), and smaller preferences for working with ideas (versus data; d = 0.29) and with prestige (d = 0.18). National cultural dimensions appear to moderate gender differences in interests beyond the influences of national gender inequality. Specifically, gender differences in interests in people (versus things) tend to be larger in countries of higher uncertainty avoidance and higher indulgence whereas gender differences in ideas (versus data) tend to be larger in countries of higher indulgence, uncertainty avoidance, and lower power distance. This study highlights how a better conceptualization of the influences of culture can inform vocational psychologists, gender studies researchers, and career counselors’ work with men and women in understanding their vocational interests.

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We thank an anonymous reviewer’s suggestion on adopting meta-analytical regression analysis to strengthen methodology in this study.

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Correspondence to Chun Tao.

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Conflict of Interest

We have no known conlfict of interest to disclose. However, we want to make note that the Personal Globe Inventory-Mini (PGI-Mini) used in this study was developed by the third author, Terence J. G. Tracey, and has copyrighted. It is available for free at

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Tao, C., Glosenberg, A., Tracey, T.J.G. et al. Are Gender Differences in Vocational Interests Universal?: Moderating Effects of Cultural Dimensions. Sex Roles 87, 327–349 (2022).

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  • Vocational interests
  • Sex and gender measures
  • National cultural dimensions
  • Cross cultural test adaptation
  • RIASEC model
  • Octant model