by Deborah N.Reixach
While some research suggests that women's preferences for work are gradually turning away from gender stereotypical employment, what can be said of the career choices of women who have not had the opportunity to pursue further education or to gain exposure to different types of work? What about women who experience multiple stressors on a daily basis and who live in environments that limit self-confidence, self-esteem and their personal sense of efficacy? Research is thorough in identifying the influence of gender socialization on women's test taking and choice of employment, but it is equally important to qualitatively explore what kind of effect influences other than gender have on testing outcomes.
Women's Career Planning
Women's career development is complex, due to the "...combination of attitudes, role expectations, behaviours, and sanctions known as the socialization process. With respect to sex role attitudes, Betz and Fitzgerald assert that women have been socially conditioned to develop specific attributes, including sensitivity and' emotional expressiveness, which can result in a limited range of occupational opportunities: There may be a tendency for women themselves to select careers in traditionally female fields including clerical, social, education and health, often assuming an assistant or helper role.3
A study examining gender differences, in the self-rating of abilities and skills found that women tend to rate their peers (same gender) as having more skills than themselves in contrast to men who rate themselves more highly than their same-gender peers.4 Both women and men tend to rate their skills in accordance with gender-stereotypic patterns: women rate themselves more highly in the area of social skills while men rate themselves higher in numeracy, manual dexterity and mechanical abilities.
As a result of such established research, Canadian guidelines for career counselling with girls and women require "counsellors to be knowledgeable about the effects of gender in human development and to apply such knowledge in career counselling with girls and women 5 An important objective is to assist women to expand their options, success and satisfaction within an occupational structure.6