NEW TRENDS IN THE SCHOOL-UNIVERSITY-WORK TRANSITION FAMILY AND GENDER DETERMINANTS AND NEW TRENDS IN MOTIVATIONAL PROFILES OF STUDENTS FACING UNIVERSITY CHOICE
1 University of Padova (ITALY)
2 TOTE Next (ITALY)
3 University of Valle d'Aosta (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Conference name: 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2011
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:The present study examined a sample of students attending their final high-school year on the point of choosing whether to leave school or continue their education at university. In the latter case, they also had to decide on a major which could combine abilities, interests, individual expectations and work placement. The aim of the study was to outline these youths’ processes of evaluation of self and of possible academic alternatives, and their future career and income expectations. A further aim was to see to what extent social class and gender affected participants’ conceptions and decisions and to check for significant changes compared with trends observed in the past. The participants in the research were 1593 students aged 18-20. The sample was weighted to be representative of the population as regards gender, type of school (lycée, technical school) and social status, medium-high (MH) vs. medium-low (ML). In agreement with the school management, the questionnaires were handed out and filled in at school, which took about 30 minutes. An ad hoc questionnaire was devised for the following areas: Personal characteristics (gender, age, parents’ qualifications and occupations), Self-efficacy indicators, Decisional ability indicators, and Self-representation in the world of work.
Our data indicate that the four subsamples obtained by crossing the variables gender and family’s social cultural status presented well-defined different profiles. Thus, we summarized the tendencies found in the sample in the four types listed below.
Girls of medium-to-low social cultural level (group of the unassuming girls), who have low aspirations for a managerial occupation and low salary expectations. The boys of the same level (ambivalent group) produce a wider range of aspirations, both as regards managerial occupations and secure, but not very demanding, jobs. When analyzing the data from the subsample of medium-high social cultural level, remarkable and somewhat unforeseen differences emerged between boys and girls. The boys from medium-high social cultural level (group of the young masters) are hardly characterized by anything, apart from a lower motivational level than the girls from the same class and higher salary expectations. Instead, the girls from medium-high level (group of the tigers), are more decidedly oriented towards university majors that either offer qualified occupational prospects or meet their vocational goals. They have high aspirations for a ‘dynamic’ and ‘managerial’ job and also high salary expectations. In conclusion, we can say that, regardless of abilities and motivations, gender and status still emerge as active variables in affecting the school-career destiny of our young participants, with particularly disheartening outcomes when gender and status interact, as it is the case of girls with medium-low social cultural level.
Keywords: University choice, professional vocation, status and gender determinants.