Skip to main content

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

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5

References

Download references

Acknowledgements

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

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Chun Tao.

Ethics declarations

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 http://doi.org/10.23668/psycharchives.4545.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Springer Nature or its licensor holds exclusive rights to this article under a publishing agreement with the author(s) or other rightsholder(s); author self-archiving of the accepted manuscript version of this article is solely governed by the terms of such publishing agreement and applicable law.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

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). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-022-01318-w

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-022-01318-w

Keywords

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