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)
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