Type of Document Dissertation Author Burge, Stephanie Woodham Author's Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org URN etd-04072006-160257 Title Gendered Pathways in Higher Education: Change and Stability in the Pursuit of a Science Degree Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Sociology, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title John Reynolds Committee Chair David Macpherson Committee Member Jill Quadagno Committee Member Patricia Yancey Martin Committee Member Keywords
- Higher Education
- academic majors
- sex segregation
Date of Defense 2006-03-14 Availability unrestricted AbstractThis dissertation examines cohort changes in young womenís and menís intentions to pursue science majors and achievements of a science degree between the 1970s and 1990s. The National Longitudinal Study of High School Seniors of 1972 (1972-1979) and the National Education Longitudinal Study 1988 (1992-2000) are used to test Jacobsí argument that young womenís success in science majors is hampered by a life-long process of social control. Gender socialization teaches boys and girls to expect different rewards and responsibilities from work and family. Consequently, as young women and men make decisions about their educational and career pursuits, they do so in gender-specific ways (Jacobs 1989; 1995; 2003). I test Jacobsí social control hypothesis by examining changes in how adolescentsí early valuation of family affects young womenís and menís intentions to pursue science and achievement of a science degree in the 1970s and 1990s. In the 1970s, family commitment operated in a gender-specific way, hampering only young womenís science intentions and achievements, but not significantly affecting menís. By the 1990s, both young menís and womenís science intentions are dampened by their commitment to family. However, young womenís science achievements continue to be hindered by their valuation of family, while menís science success is not similarly affected. My findings indicate some convergence in the effect of family commitment on young womenís and menís plans to major in science, but also suggest the resilience of gender in shaping young adultsí science achievements. The second part of this dissertation uses the NELS to examine social-psychological mechanisms that reproduce contemporary gender segregation of college majors. Competing explanations of gender segregation in academic majors are examined: the perceived competency (Correll) and social control (Jacobs) hypotheses. Specifically, I assess the influence of math efficacy and valuation of family on adolescentsí intended college majors and their earned degrees. Majors are categorized as: traditionally female majors, non-physical sciences, social sciences, business, and physical science/engineering. My results suggest that math-efficacy promotes adolescentsí science intentions and achievements, but does not explain the gender segregation of majors. Instead, early orientations toward family are essential to understanding contemporary gender segregation of academic majors.
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