Our study utilizes data from a national cohort of eighth-grade students to consider how different gender and racial/ethnic subgroups compare to White males in their likelihood to aspire toward a science or math occupation and examine the roles that self-concept, enjoyment, and achievement may play in shaping disparities at this early point in occupational trajectories. We find that the importance of enjoyment, self-concept, and achievement in explaining disparities in science career aspirations relative to White males varies according to the female subgroup considered, such that no singular story applies to females across different racial/ethnic backgrounds. For math, White and Hispanic females remain approximately half as likely as White males to aspire to a math occupation regardless of all indicators we consider. Finally, Black and Hispanic adolescent boys have generally comparable aspirations toward future careers in science and math as their White male peers, despite notably large differences in achievement. We discuss implications of our results for future research on equity.
Originally published in Science Education, 2011, 95(3), 458-476. Posted with permission. See it here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1002/(ISSN)1098-237X