Antecedent factors differentiating women and men in science/nonscience careers

Helen S. Farmer, James L. Wardrop, Susanne C. Rotella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Factors that differentiate women and men who choose a science career from those who do not were investigated using longitudinal data from 1980 and 1990. The participants (N = 459) were ninth or twelfth graders at six midwestern high schools in 1980. Women in science compared to women in other careers were significantly more likely to value math and science for their future career goals, whereas men in science compared to men in other careers had significantly higher high school grade point averages in natural science and higher career aspirations. Not unexpectedly, both women and men in science careers compared to those in nonscience careers took more high school elective science courses because they wanted to, aspired to higher prestige careers as young adults, and attributed their math successes more to their ability. The male model accounted for more than twice the variance accounted for by the female model, and context variables were not predictive for either model. Suggestions for revising the model and improving the assessment of context influences are made. Implications for research and practice include designing and evaluating programs to increase the number of intellectually able girls valuing math and science as these relate to their future goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)763-780
Number of pages18
JournalPsychology of Women Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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