The Relationship between Gender Socialization and Adolescent Educational Expectations

Shannon N. Davis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Lisa D. Pearce, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Much empirical research has been devoted to examining how early life socialization and experiences shape adolescent aspirations. This paper adds to this body of research by examining adolescent educational expectations at a crucial developmental stage with a focus on ideational processes. We test hypotheses derived from the Eccles et al. model of achievement-related choices regarding links between gender socialization and expected educational attainment. Using survey data from children of a nationally representative sample of women in the United States, we demonstrate a positive relationship between both gender egalitarianism and self-esteem and expected educational attainment for ninth- and tenth-grade girls, while no such relationship exists for ninth- and tenth-grade boys. This relationship persists after controlling for family characteristics and academic achievement. Our findings suggest the pivotal role of gender socialization in shaping girls’ educational trajectories and more generally highlight the importance of ideology and worldview in the construction of achievement goals.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Education, Gender, Religion, Language and Culture