Daigaku ronshu: Research in higher education Issue 53
2021-03 発行


Mothers’ Gender Conceptions, College Entry, and Curricular Choice among High School Students
The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role of cultural stereotypes for gender relations in the process of youth educational decision-making. In particular, we focus on the attitudes of mothers, who are the main agents of socialization, and examine the effects of their gender beliefs on the career choices of children after graduating from high school. Following recent discussion of gender-essentialist stereotypes in the field of research into gender segregation, we distinguish gender-essentialist ideology from a traditional gender-role attitude. Then, we examine the effect of these different beliefs on the choice of higher education institutions for boys and girls. We use data from a survey of 1,070 pairs of 11th-grade students and their mothers taken throughout Japan. We also use the results from a follow-up survey which obtained career information for children after completing high school. In the construction of an index of the traditional gender-role attitude, we used mothers’ answers to question items on the sexual division of labor. Mothers’ orientations regarding their children’s future occupation and expectations of human capital formation for children were also identified from responses to items in the mother questionnaire which indicated the extent to which mothers’ beliefs were affected by gender-essentialist stereotypes. The dependent variables were years of education after high school and the field of study in higher education. The results show that mothers’ expectations for human capital formation have a considerable effect on their children’s choice of college major. When mothers expected high school students to acquire technical-related skills, high school students often entered STEM fields of study in college. We also confirm that traditional gender-role attitudes affect neither years of education after high school, nor the choice of the field of study. Furthermore, a traditional gender-role attitude has little correlation with other gender beliefs. This result suggests that the indicators used in previous studies did not adequately capture the gender-essentialist views that have a significant influence on the educational decision-making process.
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