Career Development and Gender, Race, and Class

analytical Essay
2250 words
2250 words

Career Development and Gender, Race, and Class

Many theories of career development are derived from theories of personality (Sharf 1997). They attempt to illuminate the interrelationship of individual personality and behavior with work and careers. However, some prevailing career development theories were based solely on research on white males from middle- and upper-middle-class backgrounds, so their applicability to women, people of color, and other socioeconomic groups has been called into question. In addition, the focus on individual psychological or personality characteristics does not take into account the wider environmental context in which people make career decisions, thus failing to recognize the constraints faced by some groups. This Digest investigates broader perspectives on career development that are being built on emerging research focused on gender, race, ethnicity, and social class. The implications of this information for career and vocational educators and counselors are discussed.

Issues Related to Career Development Theories

Some types of career development theories include trait and factor, life-span, and social cognitive (Sharf 1997). This section looks at some of the issues surrounding the applicability of these theories in regard to gender, race, and class.

Trait and Factor Theories. The basis of trait and factor theories is the assumption that there are unique traits that can be reliably measured and that it is possible to match individual traits to occupational requirements. Holland identified six types of occupations theorized that people seek work environments and occupations that match their preferred traits. However, some people question the accuracy of the instruments used to measure...

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...h: What Kind and by Whom? ERIC Digest. Greensboro, NC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Counseling and Student Services, 1995. (ED 399 486)

Perron, J. et al. "A Longitudinal Study of Vocational Maturity and Ethnic Identity Development." Journal of Vocational Behavior 52, no. 3 (June 1998): 409-424.

Rojewski, J. W. "Predicting Career Maturity Attitudes in Rural Economically Disadvantaged Youth." Journal of Career Development 21, no. 1 (Fall 1994): 49-61. (EJ 487 464)

Sharf, R.S. Applying Career Development Theory to Counseling. 2d ed. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole, 1997.

"Special Issue: Racial Identity and Vocational Behavior." Journal of Vocational Behavior 44, no. 2 (April 1994). (EJ 482 681-688)

Stitt-Gohdes, W. L. Career Development: Issues of Gender, Race, and Class. Columbus: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education, 1997. (ED 413 533)

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that many theories of career development are derived from personality theories. however, their applicability to women, people of color, and other socioeconomic groups has been called into question.
  • Explains that trait and factor theories are based on the assumption that there are unique traits that can be reliably measured and that it is possible to match individual traits to occupational requirements.
  • Explains that life-span theories take a long-term, developmental perspective. super's theory of vocational choice suggests that individuals pass through stages of vocational development involving developmental tasks at each stage.
  • Explains social cognitive career theory, which identifies the interaction of personal attributes, external environmental factors, and behavior in career decision making.
  • Argues that career development theories are based on white, middle-class values, make assumptions, fail to include crucial structural and cultural variables, and are not applicable to certain groups.
  • Explains that career maturity is influenced by age, ace, ethnicity, locus of control, socioeconomic status, work salience, and gender.
  • Explains that some studies fail to show that socioeconomic status has a significant influence on career maturity, but others suggest that concepts like career exploration and planning may not apply to poor individuals who may leave school to take jobs for economic survival
  • Explains that career maturity research shows conflicting results for gender, some studies finding higher levels in males, others in females.
  • Explains that racial/ethnic identity is emerging as an important dimension in explaining career development. cross presented the nigrescence model, a continuum of african american identity.
  • Explains leong and chou's findings that a continuum of ethnic identity influences the vocational behavior and career choices of asian americans, while native americans' world view affects their view of work.
  • Analyzes how different cultures have different conceptions of the family, gender roles, and family-work relationships. "career" may have a collective, not an individual meaning.
  • Opines that race/ethnicity shouldn't be used as a primary signifier of career behavior, and it's important to look at the conditions under which membership is salient.
  • Explains that career choice and development are influenced by multiple factors, including personality, self-concept, racial/cultural identity, socialization, financial resources, experiences of sexism, racism, and class.
  • Cites carter, r.t., and cook, d.a. in adult career development, 2d ed.
  • States fitzgerald, l. f., and betz, n.e. in convergence in career development theories.
  • Cites leong, f. t. l., osborne, and miner, c.u.
  • Explains naidoo, bowman, s.l., and gerstein, l.h. demographics, causality, work salience and the career maturity of african-american students.
  • Explains perron's longitudinal study of vocational maturity and ethnic identity development in rural economically disadvantaged youth.
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