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Gendered Pathways Toward STEM Careers: The Incremental Roles of Work Value Profiles Above Academic Task Values


Drawing on Eccles' expectancy-value model of achievement-related choices, we examined how work values predict individual and gender differences in sciences, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) participations in early adulthood (ages of 25/27, 6 or 8 years after postsecondary school), controlling for subjective task values attached to academic subjects in late adolescence (11th grade, age 18). The study examined 1,259 Finnish participants using a person-oriented approach. Results showed that: (a) we could identify four profile groups based on five core work values (society, family, monetary, career prospects, and working with people); (b) work-value profiles predicted young adults actual STEM participation in two fields: math-intensive and life science occupations above and beyond academic task values (e.g., math/science) and background information; (c) work-value profiles also differentiate between those who entered support- vs. professional-level STEM jobs; and (d) gender differences in work value profiles partially explained the differential representation of women across STEM sub-disciplines and the overall underrepresentation of women in STEM fields.

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