National Louis University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 2166-2170
ISBN: 978-84-614-2439-9
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain
This study attempts to determine first, how culture affects individuals’ perceptions of their possibilities for corporate ladder advancement and second, whether gender is an additional factor in the nature and expression of these career aspirations. Studies have found distinct differences between males and females, particularly in their attitudes regarding advancement in the workplace. More important than actual gender differences is the issue of gender stereotyping and the self-fulfilling prophecy effect. Understanding how culture and gender influence the perception of gender specific careers will enhance our understanding of how and why career decisions are made. Some populations still believe that education and professional career are a greater necessity for men than for women. In the United States, it is a myth that women tend to have less human capital investment in education, training, and work experience than men. Some studies have reported that women in general tend to have less work experience and employment continuity than men due to disproportionate responsibility for child rearing and domestic duties. It is important to determine if this is a culturally specific phenomenon or if it is more worldwide. Participants representing Universities in the United States, Brazil, and Greece were part of the present study. Males and females, ranging in age from under 20 to 56 years of age reacted to a survey designed specifically for this study looking at both demographic information and participants’ attitudes toward equality issues in the workplace. The findings were quite revealing of specific gender and cultural implications. Men were hypothesized to believe they were more likely to attain their desired position in the workplace, but women reported this more substantially than men. Women from individualistic cultures were more likely to match their desired career with the career they were actually pursuing than women from collectivist cultures.

Jennifer Seymour Whitaker, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, stated: “National standards of living improve – family income, education, nutrition and life expectancy all rise, and birthrates fall – as women move toward equality” (as cited in Crossette, 2001, p. 1). Eleanor Roosevelt, first lady in 1940, stated: “In government, in business, and in the professions there may be a day when women will be looked upon as persons. We are, however, far from that day as yet” (as cited in Clift & Brazaitis, 2000). These powerful statements, addressing the issue of women in the workforce, emphasize the importance of improving our understanding of how gender and culture are influencing what women choose to do for careers.

This research project is a collaborative work in progress. The study is based on previous research findings and the current evidence in specific contexts. An attempt is made to determine the impact of culture on both aspirations to advance on the corporate ladder and whether or not gender is an additional factor in the expression of those aspirations, leading to an interaction effect, as well as the effect culture and gender have on perception of gender specific jobs.
Career aspirations, gender and culture, gender specific careers.