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Are Career Choices Gender-Specific?

Many factors influence people’s career choices, such as academic inclination, educational background, and gender. For many decades, gender has always been a determinant of career. However, with the technological and mental enlightenment in the past few years, this perspective has significantly changed.  

Certain jobs have always seemed to favor a particular gender over another. In this article, you’ll discover why gender plays a role in career choices and to what extent.  

Why are career choices gender specific?  

Several factors that contribute to these gender differences in career choices. 

1. Socialization 

This is a combination of the lifelong social experiences that people have gathered plays a major role here. Families, teachers, peers, and society play important roles in building the identity of individuals. Social conditioning, which creates gender stereotypes, usually starts at a very young age, is a major socialization tool. 

“A gender stereotype is a generalized view or preconception about attributes or characteristics that are or ought to be possessed by or the roles that are or should be performed by, men and women. Gender stereotyping is the practice of ascribing to an individual man or woman specific attributes, characteristics, or roles by reason only of her or his membership in the social group of men or women.” (Cusack, 2013, p.17

Tools of Socialization 

  • For instance, from an early age, parents tend to treat boys and girls differently. Small children are also encouraged to engage in gender-specific plays and activities (girls are encouraged to play with dolls while boys are encouraged to play with toys and video games). For activities, boys are usually made to engage in vigorous sports like football and basketball, why girls are made to engage in activities such as dancing.  
  • Teachers and other adult role models also interact differently with boys and girls and also as well as have different expectations for each gender. Boys are expected to be more aggressive, assertive, outspoken, and physically active, while girls are expected to be reserved, friendly, and more sensitive. The adult role models around them mold their identities as they consistently expect certain behaviors from them.  
  • The materials that are used in primary education are also effective tools of socialization. For instance, school textbooks usually have stereotypical career representations of men and women, such as women as nurses and men as engineers. Men are depicted to be the breadwinners of the family, while women are shown as stay-at-home mothers.  
  • Also, in children’s stories, men are more likely to be used than women. The media also plays a major role in portraying men and women in a certain way and performing a certain function. 

2. Peer Pressure 

Peer pressure is another contributor to socialization, especially during adolescence. Adolescents will always want to fit in with their friends, and having to partake in activities that are inconsistent with the expected gender roles may be challenging.  

Choosing gender-specific activities (a girl choosing to join the football team and a boy taking culinary lessons) is usually difficult in the face of the many factors that facilitate civilization. A young man expressing a vocational interest in nursing is just as unusual as a young girl taking a career in engineering. 

The negative effects of these socialization experiences influence both genders but to have a greater influence on women.  This is so because it greatly limits their achievements and flexibility than it does to the men.  

3. Same-sex role models 

Having same-sex role models in gender-specific occupations also plays a role in career choices. Because of the vast differences in women’s representation in different locations, women usually have more role models in female-dominated vacations than male-dominated ones. Likewise, men usually tend to have more male role models in male-dominated professions than in female-dominated ones. 

4. Parental role modeling 

This also plays a big role in career choices and preferences as children are more likely to identify with their sing same-sex parents and their occupations. 

5. Self-efficacy 

Another reason for the gender differences in a career choice is the concept of self-efficacy. This is the belief in one’s ability to excel in a wide range of professions.  Women usually don’t have access to the requisite experiences that can build self-efficacy, especially in male-dominated vacations. Self-efficacy is usually common with most men and a direct contributor to their success in various careers. 

6. Workplace Experiences 

Another contributor to gender differences in career choices is workplace experiences. Many women face certain restrictions in the workplace that prevent them from advancing in certain areas. Some of these problems include sex discrimination in recruitment, being passed up for high visibility and high-stakes job opportunities, and not being given international relocation opportunities. These workplace experiences tend to shape the career choices of women.  

7. Career Interruptions 

Career interruptions is another factor that influences gender differences in career choices.  Women usually have more reasons to suspend their careers, which in turn slows their career advancement. Although men also experience career interruptions, women are more likely to abandon their careers for a time due to family reasons (the birth of a child and starting a family). Men do so for job-related reasons ( lack of suitable employment opportunities).  

However, career interruptions that occur due to family reasons do not negatively impact one’s career advancement as for other reasons such as temporary unemployment.  

The reason for this is that when women leave their careers for a time to start a family, they are confirming their expected societal norms. Unlike men, women usually move from a teaching job to a full-time family role and then return to school. This is why most women start late in their careers than men. 

8.Duration of work 

The duration of work also influences gender differences. Married women tend to go for part-time jobs, while men prefer full-time jobs. While part-time jobs offer flexibility, it provides less exposure in organizations, resulting in losing serval opportunities for career advancement. It’s another reason why women start late in their careers than their male colleagues.  


Gender does play a major role in career choices, although civilization and technology have made things more flexible. More women are advancing in male-dominated careers in this day and age and doing a lot better than their male counterparts. On the contrary, men are beginning to pursue women-dominated vocations and excelling at them. 

Written exclusively for our company by Sherise

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