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Sex-Typing of Occupational Choice: A Test of Role Model Theory

Publication Abstract

Xie, Yu, and Kimberlee Akin. "Sex-Typing of Occupational Choice: A Test of Role Model Theory." PSC Research Report No. 92-243. July 1992.

This research examines the future occupational plans of young women as compared to those of young men within the framework of a redefinition of role model theory. We explore the influence of the societal make up of an occupation on youth's desires to train for and enter that occupation through three hypothesized channels: (1) the actual sex-segregation of occupation in the labor force (the Reflection Effect); (2) the cross-occupational variation in pay equity between female and male workers (the Anticipation Effect); and (3) the cross-occupational variation in the proportion of successful female workers (the Emulation Effect). The hypotheses are tested against data from a nationally representative survey of high school seniors in 1972 and from the 1970 U.S. Census. We find substantial evidence for the Reflection Effect and some evidence for the Emulation Effect, but none for the Anticipation Effect. We further corroborate our findings by comparing the predicted changes in sex-typing of occupations as induced by the compositional changes of role models against the observed changes between 1972 and 1979.

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