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Girls like pink: explaining sex-typed occupational aspirations among young children

Polavieja, Javier and Platt, Lucinda (2010) Girls like pink: explaining sex-typed occupational aspirations among young children. IAE working paper, 844.10. Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (IAE), Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), Barcelona, Spain.

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Abstract

There is a high degree of sex-typing in young children's occupational aspirations and this has consequences for subsequent occupational segregation. Sociologists typically attribute early sex- differences in occupational preferences to gender socialization. Yet we still know surprisingly little about the mechanisms involved in the intergenerational transmission of sex-typical preferences and there is considerable theoretical controversy regarding the role of individual agency in the process of preference formation. This study analyzes the determinants of sex-typed occupational aspirations amongst British children aged between 11 and 15. We specify different mechanisms involved in the transmission of sex-typical preferences and propose an innovative definition of individual agency that is anchored in observable psychological traits linked to self-direction. This allows us to perform a simultaneous test of socialization and agency predictors of occupational sex-typing. We find that parental influences on occupational preferences operate mainly through three distinctive channels: 1) the effect that parental socio-economic resources have on the scope of children's occupational aspirations, 2) children's direct imitation of parental occupations, and 3) children's learning of sex- typed roles via the observation of parental behavior. We also find a strong net effect of children's own psychological predispositions -self-esteem in particular- on the incidence of sex-typical occupational preferences. Yet large differences in the occupational aspirations of girls and boys remain unexplained.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL: http://www.iae.csic.es/
Additional Information: © 2010 The Authors
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Sets: Departments > Social Policy
Rights: http://www.lse.ac.uk/library/usingTheLibrary/academicSupport/OA/depositYourResearch.aspx
Identification Number: 844.10
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2014 10:18
URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/55584/

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