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Gender Differences in College Students’ Future Aspirations Materials and Measures
M = 1.70, SD = 1.33, Females M = 1.42, SD = 1.18), but for other events (e.g., having a career), they felt a lot of pressure (Males M = 2.63, SD = Gender studies show that men and women prioritize different life goals. The demographic portion of the questionnaire consisted of four questions 1.22, Females M = 2.98, SD = 1.10). Blakemore, Lawton, and Vartanian (2005) found that women had a higher identifying the participant’s age, gender, class standing, and race/ethnicity. The drive to marry than did men. Greene and Wheatley (1992) found that rest of the survey was based on an adjusted version of Abowitz and Knox ‘s Hypothesis 4
females also expected to marry and become parents at younger ages than (2003) survey. Besides using Likert-scales to rate different aspects of life, the what males anticipated. An example of another aspiration that women have current study included ranking of these values as well. With permission of the The fourth hypothesis tested if men and women would differ in their rated more important to them than men is being well educated (Abowitz & authors, this adjustment was included to identify how participants would rank six rankings of various future events, specifically focusing on stereotypical Knox, 2003). In addition to the significant difference between the way men possible future goals from one to six, with one being the most important to six gender aspirations. The data was analyzed using the Mann-Whitney U and women rated being well educated in Abowitz and Knox’s study, the being the least important. A couple of examples of a life value that were ranked nonparametric test for independent groups. Results showed that men and researchers also referred to a study conducted by the American Council on include, “having a career and work” and “getting married.” The survey included women did not differ significantly in their rankings of the various future Education and the University of California (2001). In American Council on nine items total with some items having multiple sub-parts for ranking or rating.
events (p>.05), except for the importance they placed on completing a Education and University of California survey of more than 280,000 graduate program. Women ranked completing a graduate program much undergraduates, 79% of the women estimated that they would earn a Procedure
lower in terms of importance (mean rank = 42.09) compared to men (mean bachelor’s degree. Whereas, only 74% of men shared this expectation, rank = 62.14), Z-value = -3.48, p < .001. However, women in the sample did which is a finding similar to Abowitz and Knox’s study. Furthermore, Singer, Prior to completing in-person questionnaires, a consent form briefly explaining find future occupational and family events equally important as men. See Cassin, and Dobson (2005) showed that more women than men anticipated the survey and granting the researcher to use their responses as well as a child rearing would disrupt their career, which begs the question, do women referral to the University’s Counseling Center was given to participants to sign. expect to delay pursuing their careers and educational goals because they The nine-item survey (including the demographic section) took a maximum of anticipate that their investment in child rearing would disrupt their careers, or twenty minutes for a participant to complete. Mean Ranking of Life Goals’ Importance do women still expect to pursue their career and educational goals despite It is believed that women, more frequently and consciously than men, incorporate marriage and parenthood in their future goals. This desire for Hypothesis 1
family life, possibly influenced by a lifetime of expectations from society, family, and peers, is so deep-rooted among many women that they prioritize An independent samples t-test was conducted to examine the first hypothesis it before any other future aspirations, although this does not suggest that that women would frequently think about all future aspirations, including domestic most women do not have educational and occupational aspirations. It is and occupational aspects of life, more often than men. Results showed that Graduate
believed that men aren’t as pressured from society, family, and peers to get women thought about all future aspirations, including domestic and occupational Marriage
married and have children. This would allow them to invest in and prioritize aspects of life more often compared to men, supporting the first hypothesis. other future aspirations, such as their education and career, before family life. Specifically men (M = 7.98, SD =2.60) and women (M = 9.18, SD= 2.75) differed The current study examines whether there is a gender difference in significantly in how much they thought about stereotypical feminine goals, t(102) prioritizing and ranking life goals.
= 2.29, p<.05, r2 = 0.02, such as developing friendships, getting married, and DISCUSSION
becoming a parent. However, results showed no difference in how men and women thought about educational and career goals, which did not support the Results indicate that part of the first hypothesis was supported. Women 2nd part of the first hypotheses (p>.05).
frequently think about various future aspirations in comparison to men. 1. Women would frequently think about all future aspirations, including Women also tended to think more about stereotypical feminine goals such domestic and occupational aspects of life, more often than men. Hypothesis 2
as relationships and child bearing than men. The second hypothesis 2. Women would plan to accomplish future aspirations by a younger age regarding gender differences in expected goal completion was not A Pearson’s chi-square analysis was used to test the second hypothesis that supported. Instead, results showed that the majority of both men and 3. Men and women would differ in their perception of social pressure women would plan to accomplish future aspirations by a younger age than men. women expected to accomplish various life goals by the time they are thirty regarding future aspirations in marriage, family, education and careers.
Both men and women answered similarly regarding what age they planned on years old. This included completing a graduate program, getting married, 4. Men and women would differ in their ranking of various future events.
accomplishing future goals (p>.05). Most men and women planned on becoming a parent, having a career, and being financially secure. In completing graduate school, getting married, becoming a parent, having a addition, the third hypothesis was not supported. Both men and women feel career, and becoming financially stable before the age of thirty or younger. This an equal amount of social pressure regarding accomplishing educational, occupational, and domestic aspirations. The last hypothesis examining gender differences in ranking importance levels of various future goals had Hypothesis 3
some significant differences. Men ranked completing a graduate program One-hundred and four traditional undergraduate students at a small, much higher than women. But the women did equally rank the importance of private university in Southern California participated in this study. The 50 An independent samples t-test was conducted to examine the third female and the 54 male participants were conveniently recruited in hypothesis that men and women would differ in their perception of social Limitations to the study include the sample and its characteristics. classrooms and around campus and participants ranged in age from 18 -28 pressure regarding future aspirations in marriage, family, education and careers. Undergraduate students in this study reported majors of study that highly years (Males M age = 20.30, SD = 2.03; Females M age = 19.96, SD = 1.44) No significant differences were found in the perception of social pressure that encourage graduate study, whereas if other students in fields not Ethnicities of participants varied, with 42.3% White (n = 44), 33.7% each gender felt about the various future goals (p>.05), which did not support the encouraging this would have yielded different results. Future research may Latino/Hispanic (n = 35), 11.5% African American/Black (n = 12), 6.7% Asian hypothesis. Means for all 6 questions relating to social pressures ranged consider incorporating the participants’ declared major in the demographic American/Asian (n = 7), and 5.8% “Other” (n = 6). A majority of the students between 1.42 to 2.98 for both men and women, which suggests that for certain section. It would also be interesting to analyze the students’ race in relation (39.4%) were juniors, 25% were sophomores, 24% were seniors and 11.5% life events (e.g., developing life-long friends) they felt very little pressure (Males to their life goals. Additionally, collecting data on participants’ self-esteem levels in relationship to their future aspirations would also be important.
Presented at the 87th Annual Western Psychological Association Convention, Vancouver, Canada May 3-6, 2007

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