Fourth-gr[a]de black children's occupational aspirations, expectations, and role models
Lietz, Stephanie R.
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This study examined the occupational aspirations and expectations of fourthgrade black children and contributors to those career goals. Occupational aspirations and expectations were defined by prestige and gender stereotype. Drawing on Bandura's social cognitive theory, a special focus was placed on any relationship between the children's reported role models and their occupational goals. The influences of a student's family structure, self-competence level, the teacher's prediction of educational attainment, and the number of role models on occupational aspirations and expectations were examined. Whether children's occupational aspirations, expectations, role models, and other influences differ by gender was also examined. The children's aspirations were significantly higher than their expectations. Most of the occupations chosen by children were considered "neutral" in gender stereotype. Sources contributing to occupational goals, like media exposure and first-hand experience, were reported as well as reasons for discrepancy between aspirations and expectations, like the child's perception of inability. Ninety-two percent of the children reported having one or more role models. Sixty-nine percent of the role models were family members, 22% were media personalities, and 9% were members of the community. The number of role models was related positively to the teacher's prediction of educational attainment and the student's perception of competence. Children provided reports about occupations held by role models and discussions with role models concerning occupational goals. Occupational prestige scores were not found to differ statistically between children living in one- and two-parent families. The children's aspirations were positively related to the students' perceptions of competence. A negative relationship was found between the teachers' predictions of educational attainment and the children's aspirations and expectations. The children's aspirations and expectations were not related to the number of role models. Girls' and boys' occupational aspirations and expectations were similar. Teachers rated more girls as likely to graduate from high school and college than boys. There were no significant gender differences in number of role models reported. These findings suggest that children could benefit from exposure to occupational role models and discussions concerning occupational goals in school.