Gender Differences in Science, Math, and Technology Careers: Prestige Level and Holland Interest Type

Helen Farmer, Susanne Rotella, Carolyn Anderson, James Wardrop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined gender differences in Holland's occupational interest types and occupational prestige for persons in a science, math, or technical (SMT) career. Participants were 113 (62 female, 51 male) young adults followed up in 1990 from a larger Midwest longitudinal study involving six high schools first assessed in 1980. Their 1990 occupations (n= 71) or college majors (n= 42) were coded for Holland occupational interest type and prestige. As expected, gender differences were found for occupational prestige (p< .001). The odds for the men compared to women being in higher prestige majors/occupations were 18.7 times higher. Men and women had similar proportions of occupations with a Holland Investigative emphasis. Although, as in previous research, there were gender differences (p< .01) for Holland's Realistic and Social interest types this was true only when Realistic or Social was the first letter in the Holland code. There were no gender differences for Holland Realistic or Social codes in the second or third positions. Our findings indicate that women need not feel they must give up their Social interests to pursue a high-prestige science career since many of these combine Social with Investigative and Realistic interests. Results are discussed with implications for practice and future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-96
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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