Sex Roles

, Volume 48, Issue 9–10, pp 447–460

Mom Matters: Maternal Influence on the Choice of Academic Major

  • Jacqueline C. Simpson
Article

Abstract

Using High School and Beyond data and multinomial logit modeling, this analysis explores the parental impact on a student's choice of academic major. Family measures that have traditionally been used in status attainment models have focused primarily on father. This analysis includes measures for both the mother and the father to gauge their individual impact. Results indicate that mothers influence students' choice of academic major most readily through emotional and normative channels. In addition, mothers generally encourage the pursuit of nontechnical majors, whereas fathers encourage the pursuit of technical majors. The implications of this analysis are that mothers ought to be included more systematicly in status attainment models.

academic major college mother father 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Acock, A. C., Barker, D., & Bengston, V. L. (1982). Mother's employment and parent–youth similarity. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 44, 441-455.Google Scholar
  2. Aldrich, J. H., & Nelson, F. D. (1984). Linear probability, logit, and probit models. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  3. Astin, A. W. (1993). What matters in college. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  4. Bank, B. J., Slavings, R. L., & Biddle, B. J. (1990). Effects of peer, faculty, and parental influences on students' persistence. Sociology of Education, 63, 208-225.Google Scholar
  5. Berryman, S. E. (1983). Who will do science: Trends and their causes in minority and female representation among holders of advanced degrees in science and mathematics. New York: Rockefeller Foundation.Google Scholar
  6. Biddle, B. J., Bank, B. J., & Marlin, M. M. (1980). Parental and peer influence on adolescents. Social Forces, 58, 1057-1079.Google Scholar
  7. Bose, C. E. (1985). Jobs and gender. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
  8. Chao, R. T. (1994). Chinese and European American cultural models of self reflected in mothers' childrearing beliefs. Ethos, 23, 328-354.Google Scholar
  9. Chao, R. T. (1996) Chinese and European mothers' beliefs about the role of parenting in children's school success. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 27, 403-423.Google Scholar
  10. Chen, C., & Stevenson, H. W. (1995). Motivation and mathematics achievement: A comparative study of Asian-American, Caucasian-American, and East Asian high school students. Child Development, 66, 1215-1234.Google Scholar
  11. Coleman, J., & Hoffer, T. (1987). Public and private high schools: The impact of communities. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  12. DiPrete, T. A., & Grusky, D. B. (1990). Structure and trend in the process of stratification for American men and women. American Journal of Sociology, 96, 107-143.Google Scholar
  13. Dworkin, R. J. (1981). Prestige ranking of housewife occupation. Sex Roles, 7, 59-63.Google Scholar
  14. Flannagan, D., & Perese, S. (1998). Emotional references in mother–daughter and mother–son dyads' conversations about school. Sex Roles, 39, 353-367.Google Scholar
  15. Gamoran, A. (1987). The stratification of high school learning opportunities. Sociology of Education, 60, 135-155.Google Scholar
  16. Hanushek, E., & Jackson, J. E. (1977). Statistical methods for social scientists. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  17. Hillman, S. B., Sawilowsky, S. S., & Becker, M. J. (1993). Effects of maternal employment patterns on adolescents' substance use and other risk-taking behaviors. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 2, 203-219.Google Scholar
  18. Hoffer, T., Greeley, A. M., & Coleman, J. S. (1985). Achievement growth in public and Catholic schools. Sociology of Education, 58, 74-97.Google Scholar
  19. Jacobs, J. (1961). The life and death of great American cities. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  20. Jacobs, J. A. (1995). Gender and academic specialties: Trends among recipients of college degrees in the 1980s. Sociology of Education, 68, 81-98.Google Scholar
  21. Kalmijn, M. (1994). Mother's occupational status and children's schooling. American Sociological Review, 59, 257-276.Google Scholar
  22. Kerckhoff, A. C. (1986). Family position, peer influences, and schooling. In J. G. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education (pp. 93-112). New York: Greenwood.Google Scholar
  23. Khazzoom, A. (1997). The impact of mothers' occupational on children's occupational destinations. Research in Stratification and Mobility, 15, 57-89.Google Scholar
  24. Kieren, D. K., & Munro, B. (1987). Following the leaders: Parents' influence on adolescent religion activity. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 26, 249-255.Google Scholar
  25. Lareau, A. (1987). Social class differences in family–school relationships: The importance of cultural capital. Sociology of Education, 60, 73-85.Google Scholar
  26. McAdam, D., VanDyke, N., Munch, A., & Shockey, J. (1997). Social movements as a source of change in life course dynamics. Unpublished manuscript, University of Arizona.Google Scholar
  27. McBroom, W. H. (1985). The influence of parental status variables on the status aspirations of youths. Adolescence, 20, 115-127.Google Scholar
  28. McCord, J. (1991). Family relationships, juvenile delinquency, and adult criminality. Criminology, 29, 397-417.Google Scholar
  29. Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, self, and society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  30. Menaghan, E. G., & Parcel, T. L. (1991). Determining children's home environments: The impact of maternal characteristics and current occupational and family conditions. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 53, 417-431.Google Scholar
  31. National Center for Education Statistics. (1984). High school and beyond: Quality of responses of high school students to questionnaire items. Washington, DC: W. B. Fetters, P. S. Stowe, & J. A. Owings.Google Scholar
  32. National Center for Education Statistics. (1990).Digest of education statistics. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.Google Scholar
  33. Ogbu, J. U. (1978). Minority education and caste: The American system in cross cultural perspective. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  34. Ogbu, J. U. (1995). Cultural problems in minority education: Their interpretations and consequences. Urban Review, 27, 271-297.Google Scholar
  35. Parcel, T. L., & Menaghan, E. G. (1994). Early parental work, family social capital, and early childhood outcomes. American Journal of Sociology, 99, 972-1009.Google Scholar
  36. Pascarella, E. T., & Terenzini, P. T. (1991). How college affects students. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  37. Persell, C. H., Catsambis, S., & Cookson, P. W., Jr. (1992). Differential asset conversion: Class and gendered pathways to selective colleges. Sociology of Education, 65, 208-225.Google Scholar
  38. Powell, B., & Steelman, L. C. (1982). Testing an undertested comparison: Maternal effects on sons' and daughters' attitudes toward women in the labor force. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 44, 349-355.Google Scholar
  39. Pyun, C. S. (1969). The monetary value of a housewife: An economic analysis for use in litigation. American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 28, 271-284.Google Scholar
  40. Reitzes, D. C., & Mutran, E. (1980). Significant others and self conceptions: Factors influencing educational expectations and academic performance. Sociology of Education, 53, 21-32.Google Scholar
  41. Rose, J. D., & Pyong, G. M. (1992, August). A comparison between Jewish and Korean-American families in child socialization. Paper presented at the meeting of the American Sociological Association, Pittsburgh, CA.Google Scholar
  42. Rosen, H. S. (1974). The monetary value of a housewife: A replacement cost approach. American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 33, 65-73.Google Scholar
  43. Sadker, M., & Sadker, D. (1994). Failing at fairness. New York: Scribner.Google Scholar
  44. Schneider, B., & Lee, Y. (1990). A model for academic success: The school and home environment of East Asian students. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 21, 358-377.Google Scholar
  45. Sewell, W. H., & Hauser, R. M. (1975). Education, occupation, and earnings: Achievement in the early career. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  46. Sewell, W. H., & Shah, V. P. (1968). Social class, parental encouragement, and educational aspirations. American Journal of Sociology, 73, 559-572.Google Scholar
  47. Simpson, J. (2001). Racial differences in the factors influencing academic major between European Americans, Asian Americans, and African, Hispanic, and Native Americans. Journal of Higher Education, 71, 63-100.Google Scholar
  48. Smith, M. D., & Self, G. D. (1980). The congruence between mothers' and daughters' sex-role attitudes: A research note. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 42, 105-109.Google Scholar
  49. Steele, J., & Barling, J. (1996). Influence of maternal gender-role beliefs and role satisfaction on daughters' vocational interests. Sex Roles, 34, 637-648.Google Scholar
  50. Stevens, G., & Cho, J. H. (1985). Socioeconomic indexes and the new 1980 census occupational classification scheme. Social Science Research, 14, 142-168.Google Scholar
  51. Thornborrow, N. M., & Sheldon, M. B. (1995). Women in the labor force. In J. Freeman (Ed.), Women: A feminist perspective (5th ed., pp. 197-220). Mountain View, CA: Mayfield.Google Scholar
  52. Tickamyer, A. R., & Blee, K. M. (1990). The racial convergence thesis in women's intergenerational occupational mobility. Social Science Quarterly, 71, 711-728.Google Scholar
  53. Trieman, D. J., & Terrell, K. (1975). Sex and the process of status attainment: A comparison of working women and men. American Sociological Review, 40, 174-200.Google Scholar
  54. U.S. Department of Commerce. (1999). Statistical abstract of the United States. Washington, DC: Bureau of the Census.Google Scholar
  55. Wolfer, L. T., & Moen, P. (1996). Staying in school: Maternal employment and the timing of Black and White daughters' school exit. Journal of Family Issues, 17, 540-560.Google Scholar
  56. Yamoor, C. M. (1992). The influence of maternal employment on adolescent problem behavior. Dissertation Abstracts International, 53(02A), 632. (UMI No. 9220287)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacqueline C. Simpson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyMcMurry UniversityAbilene

Personalised recommendations