Sex -type of parental occupations and sex-typed occupational aspirations: Factors affecting the sex -typed occupational attainments of young white women and men

Meritta B Cullinan, Fordham University


This research focuses on the differing socialization experience of women and men as a factor in the occupational attainment process. Specifically, this study examines the role of socioeconomic family background characteristics, particularly parental role modeling as exemplified by the sex-type of parent's occupation, and atypicality of occupational aspirations, on atypicality of first job as well as that occupation held in the final survey year.^ Using data drawn from the surveys of Young Women and Young Men in the National Longitudinal Survey of Labor Market Experience, a sample of white 14 to 18 year old women and men is followed from the initial survey year, when they were still enrolled full-time in school, to the last survey year--14 years later. During this time, the men and women left full-time education, began their first full-time civilian occupations, adopted marital/family roles and accumulated work experience.^ The study makes use of a theoretical model drawn from status attainment and human capital studies of occupational attainment. Given the findings generated by the above schools, this research incorporates measures of socioeconomic family background characteristics and aspirations, as well as measures of human capital qualifications and labor market commitment, as factors which impact on the occupational attainment process of men and women.^ Family background characteristics are found to influence atypical attainment. Father's atypicality directly influences son's entry-level atypical employment, whereas mother's atypicality has a direct influence on daughter's atypical current achievements. This offers confirmation of the importance of family background characteristics in atypical attainment and specifically offers evidence supporting a same-sex role model effect.^ Moreover, pre-employment aspirations play an important role in the atypical attainment process of women and men. Atypicality of occupational aspirations has significant direct effects on both entry-level and on current atypical occupational attainment for both sexes. The importance of nontraditional aspirations for atypicality of first job and for subsequent atypical attainment approximately 14 years later supports the contention that the sex-type of pre-employment aspirations does contribute significantly to the explanation of sex-typed occupational attainment. ^

Subject Area

Labor relations

Recommended Citation

Cullinan, Meritta B, "Sex -type of parental occupations and sex-typed occupational aspirations: Factors affecting the sex -typed occupational attainments of young white women and men" (1989). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8910752.