Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology



First Advisor

Denise DeZolt


This project evaluated the effectiveness of a short-term educational intervention program intended to alter sex-role beliefs of children regarding adult careers using a non-equivalent control group design. Participants were second and fifth grade students from a New England elementary school. Dependent measures were The Occupational Choice Survey (OCS), The Stereotypic Occupational Scale (SOS), The Children's Sex-Role Inventory (CSRI), and The Self-Perception Profile for Children (SPPC). Interventions included reading fictional and nonfictional literature of adults in nontraditional work roles, followed by a guided discussion, and a panel discussion with adults in traditional and nontraditional roles, followed by a guided discussion. The goal of the intervention was to broaden children's gender schemas of "self" and "others," with respect to "careers."

ANCOVA and paired t-test analyses found the intervention to be moderately effective in altering children's beliefs about "others" in nontraditional fields, with intervention participants more likely to accept men in traditionally feminine roles and women in traditionally masculine roles. Second graders were more rigid than fifth graders regarding "self” roles. On the CSRI, boys rated themselves higher on both the M and F scales than did girls, hence challenging the validity of the CSRI as a measure of sex-typing in children.

Results of the paired t-tests suggest that the control participants were possibly influenced by the testing procedure. Girls in the intervention group showed more changes in the area of “self” career choices with respect to gender neutral and nontraditional jobs than boys. It appears in general that the intervention was somewhat more effective with younger participants and girls.

The qualitative analyses provide support for the proposition that the male role is more highly valued than the female role by both boys and girls. The data suggest that there is more tolerance for girls and little tolerance for boys crossing gender lines in regards to adult work. The reason given for interest in specific careers followed communal and agentic themes.

Girls that expressed an interest in nontraditional jobs gave communal/nurturing reasons for their interest, while stating that boys would be interested in power, status, and monetary gains for that same job. In general, boys expressed interest in athletics, mathematics and science; girls did not. When scores on the measuring instruments were examined in relation to interview data, there was a wide range of responses on perceived competence and global self-worth measures. Those who chose nontraditional jobs in the interviews did not differ in their self-descriptions from those who chose traditional jobs.

Results of this study have implications for theory regarding career development of children.

diss_Dutton_Deborah_1994.txt (216 kB)
text file of dissertation



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