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Journal of Vocational Behavior, 1, 305-3 15 (197 1

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Occupational Interests:
Male-Female or High Level-Low Level Dichotomy?
ESTHER E. DIAMOND1 32
Science Research Associates, Inc.
Chicago, Illinois

The relation between occupational level and masculine and feminine
interests was investigated to determine whether sex differences in interests
would be minimized at the high end of the occupational continuum and
dichotomized at the low end. Subjects were scored on four experimental
scales derived from Kuder OIS scales-Male, Female, High Occupational
Level, and Low Occupational Level. Scores were subjected to several analyses, including comparisons of mean differences within and across groups,
and an errors of classification study. In general, results were consistent with
the proposed hypothesis. A strong, unpredicted relation, for the two male
groups, between high occupational level and female interests was hypothesized to be the result of a verbal factor common to both sets of interests.

Long before women’s liberation activities began receiving wide, almost
daily coveragein the press, increasing numbers of women were entering occupational fields that traditionally, in our society, had been dominated by men.
Until recently, however, instruments to measureoccupational interest had few
or no scalesfor women other than those for traditional women’s work-housewife, elementary school teacher, nurse, librarian, office worker, secretary,and
so on. Even today, with a number of professional scaleson the Strong Vocational Interest Blank (SVIB) for women, and still more on the Kuder Occupational Interest Survey (OIS), men’s and women’s occupational interests are
frequently considered to be quite different, even in the samefield, and use of
separatescalesor samescaleswith separatenorms prevails. Most investigators
of the assumeddifferences between men’s and women’s occupational interests
lReprints may be obtained from the author, Science Research Associates, 259 East
Erie St., Chicago, Illinois 60611.
‘Parts of this study were briefly summarized in the following: Diamond, E. E.
Occupational level versus sex group as a system of classification. Proceedingsof fhe 76th
Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, 1968, 3, 199-200 (Summary); Relationship between occupational level and masculine and feminine interests.
Proceedings of the 78th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association,
1970, 5, 177-178 (Summary).
305
Copyright @ 1971 by Academic Press, Inc.

Crissy and Daniel (1939). and the “actual physical fact of maleness or femalenessis not necessarily an indication of location at the masculine or feminine end of the scale. Differences in relative masculinity-femininity are related in many ways to occupational interests [p. The roletaking is both conscious and unconscious. A factor analysis failed to substantiate the com- . which the investigators identified as interest in male association. according to Roe. Tyler observed. the psychological and sociological differences between the sexesare much more important than primary and secondary physical differences.51) saw a girl’s role model as primarily a sex model. more similar than dissimilar. Darley and Hagenah(1955) found that noncareer-orientedwomen who work for a short time before marriage at the traditional women’s jobs described above tend to score higher on the feminine end of the SVIB Masculinity-Femininity (MF) scalethan do career-oriented women. while she perceived a boy’s role model as beginning as a sex model and developing into a differentiated occupational model. interest in language. Three of these corresponded to three factors in the men’s scales-interest in people.” with vocational development being understood partly in terms of the way in which the individual meets role expectations. regardlessof special abilities. DIAMOND have explained these differences. 46471.306 ESTHER E. and interest in science. “who are more masculine than some men. and vice versa. and that women’s interests are generally less channelized or professionally intense than those of men. she maintained. a girl to be kind and gentle.within the context of overall psychosocial role.” Tyler (19. with reference to occupations. Seder (1940) studied the scoresof 100 women physicians and 100 life insurance saleswomenon 35 scalesof the men’s and women’s forms of the SVIB. most boys have begun to see themselves and their roles according to the different kinds of positions they might occupy in adult life. had no counterpart in the men’s scalesand appearedto represent nonprofessionalinterests mainly-including an interest in detail and order. on the other hand.” Super (1957) viewed occupations as “organizations of social roles. As a child. found four factors in the women’s scales. Roe (1956) held that. most girls. 581. More than 30 years ago.” There are some women. but that they could be made to appear quite dissimilar when their interest blanks were scored on the MF (Masculinity-Femininity) scaleof the SVIB. Psychological and social differences. Even in the first grade. children and adults emulate role models “sometimes by design. form a continuum. a boy is called on to be brave and strong. sometimeswithout awarenessof the identification [pp. to varying degrees. including sex role. on the whole. A fourth factor. Strong (1943) found that the interests of men and women were. see themselvesas homemakers like their mothers. in a factor analysis of the SVIB.

but argued that generally it is much better to “score a sex on its own scales.307 OCCUPATIONAL INTERESTS mon claim that women’s interests show different factors from those of men and Sederconcluded that the factor loadingstended to support the hypothesis that there is no “femininity” factor among the women’s keys or “masculinity” factor among the men’s keys.” Much later. and competencies.letter ratings were raised one letter in the change from the women’s form to the men’s. Laime and Zytowski (1964) investigated the question of whether scores on the men’s form could be predicted from scores on the women’s form. achievement. TABLE 1 Occupational CriterionGroups Used to Construct the Four Experimental Scales Sex Occupational level High Male Minister Personnel manager Physician Psychiatrist Statistnzian LOW Baker Carpenter Plumbing contractor Television repairman Truck driver Female Administrative dietitian High school science teacher Lawyer Medical social worker Psychiatric social worker Beautician Dental assistant Department store saleswoman Florist Office clerk . 574-576) disputed Seder’s findings. On only one scalewas the letter rating lowered. potential. Strong (1943. For seven scales. pp. Among the highest correlations were those for lawyers. an increase of five standard score units. He conceded that some men’s and women’s scalesmight be used interchangeably. Rand (1968) found that career-oriented college freshmenwomen scored significantly higher than homemaking-oriented college freshmen women on nine out of ten masculine characteristicsrelated to interest. which Strong (1943) and Seder (1940) had found among the lowest. but they also scored higher on a number of the feminine variables! Rand concluded that the career-orientedwoman has redefined her role to include those behaviors appropriate to both sexes.while the homemaking-oriented woman adheresclosely to her traditional feminine role.

METHOD The interest measure employed in this study was the Kuder Occupational Interest Survey (OIS). on the basis of four gross classifications: Male. making a total of 20 groups. expressing the relation between subject’s responses and the characteristic responses of the criterion group (Kuder. High Occupational Level. 1966). It was hypothesized that sex differences in occupationally relevant interests would be minimized at the upper end of the occupational continuum. five were chosen at random. The study was specifically designed to determine whether it is possible for an interest measure to discriminate between subjects more accurately with respect to occupational level than with respect to sex group. Farmer and Bohn (1970) administered the women’s form of the SVIB twice to professional women subjects. The OIS rationale eliminates use of a general reference group. From the groups in each of these classifications. although they might be clearly differentiated at the low end. High Occupational Level. These are shown in Table 1. DIAMOND Stanfiel (1970) found that women college students who completed both the men’s and the women’s forms of the SVIB obtained a significantly greater number of A scores on the men’s form. first using a standard administration and then using an experimental set almed at reducing home-career conflict. where women are not likely to be employed as truck drivers or construction workers and male stenographers and typists are the exception rather than the rule. a priori. and amount and kind of education required. and whether the occupational level scales based on the combined responses of men and women to an interest inventory could successfully differentiate between high. degree of independence and decision-making. as described by the Occupational Outlook Handbook and the Dictionay of Occupational Titles and to some extent by the two-way classification of occupations (field by level) developed by Roe (1956). Form DD.and low-level occupational interests for both sexes.308 ESTHER E. subjects scored higher on the Career scales and lower on the Home scales. Criterion groups for which 01s scales had been developed were selected. and Low Occupational Level-were developed from the combined response proportions for the groups in each of the four experimen- . the values of each possible response for a given scale are derived directly from the proportion of the criterion group marking that response. The purpose of the study reported here was to explore the relation between occupational level and interests identified as masculine or feminine. Occupational level was defined in accordance with a combination of criteria-level of responsibility. On the second administration. Female. Four experimental scales-Male. Female. Low Occupational Level. Scores are reported as lambda coefficients.

476 .309 OCCUPATIONAL INTERESTS TABLE 2 Means and ‘Standard Deviations for the Four Experimental Groups on the Four Scales Scale High OL male Low OL male High OL female Low OL female Female Male Group High occupational level Low occupatlonal level M SD M SD M SD M SD s22 .090 522 .132 . RESULTS Mean Differences Means and standard deviations of subjects on the four experimental scales are given in Table 2.079 . while for Low Occupational Level Females.535 . 1966). Mean differences between scoreson the four scaleswere compared both within groups and across groups. using the systememployed in developing the 01s scales (Ruder.545 . For the two High Occupational Level groups. Correct classification was defined as scoring higher on the scale representing subject’s actual sex or occupational level than on the scale for the opposite sex or occupational level.mean score on the Female scalewas highest. Each subject was scored on each of the four experimental scales.446 .314 .098 .080 . mean score on the Low Occupational Level scale .112 .457 .090 . Ties were.45 1 .443 .440 .339 . counted as correct classifications. an errors of classification study was conducted to determine the frequency with which subjects were classified correctly on the basis of sex and of level.077 tal classifications. As expected.554 .121 . Three-hundred cross-validationsubjects.75 for each of the four experimental classifications.435 .085 S42 .105 .080 . means for both High Occupational Level Males and High Occupational Level Femaleswere highest on the High Occupational Level scale.395 .lOO .080 .075 . Next.116 . For Low Occupational Level Males. were randomly selected from an available pool of OIS cross-validation subjects. mean score on the Low Occupational Level scale was highest.

082 .104 .065 . High-low OL .49* High-low OL .430* Low-high OL .033 .Ol).077 17.514* .032 .06 1 4.67 .482* M-Low OL -.654* High occupational level females (N = 75) F-M M SE t ratio M SE t ratio F-High OL F-Low OL .071 -1.07? 14.096 . differences between mean scores on the scale for their own sex and on the High Occupational Level scale were not significant.088 6.37* -.058 17. For both groups of Low Occupational Level subjects.I59 .874* .099 .102 13. DIAMOND was lowest.062 -.089 . differencesbetween mean scoreson the Male and Female scales and between mean scores on the High and Low Occupational Level scales were significant (p < .014 . High Occupational Level groups of both sexesalso scored TABLE 3 Relevant Mean Differences between Scores High occupational level males (N = 75) M SE t ratio M-Fa M-high OL M-low OL .07 1 .451* Low-hgh OL .263* .I62 .847* Low occupational level females (N = 75) F-M F-High OL F-Low OL .091 -.814* .119 .72* Low occupational level males (N = 75) M SE t ratio M-F M-High OL . mean score on the Male scalewas lowest.I29 .052 -5.310 ESTHER E.091 8.102 8.937* “M represents male.392* 8.09. F represents female. For both High Occupational Level groups.003 . for Low Occupational Level Males.Ol.374 13.083 10. and for Low Occupational Level Females. mean score on the High Occupational Level scale was lowest.096 .5 8.Ol). differences between mean scoreson the scale for their own sex and on both the High and Low Occupational Level scaleswere significant (‘JJ< . *p < . For all groups.057 12.087 .

43** .86 6.p < .076 . p < .82** 12.048 .12s 5.00** 7.p < .Ol.between means of High and Low Occupational Level Femaleson the Female scale. Results of a second series of t tests.65** .07** 6.079 .221 .OlO . **p < .311 OCCUPATIONAL INTERESTS TABLE 4 Relevant Mean Differences Between Scores Compared Across Groups Group I (N = 75) High OL male High OL female High OL male High OL female High OL male High OL male Low OL male Low OL male High OL male High OL female High OL male High OL female High OL male Low OL male Group II (N = 75) Low OL male Low OL female Low OL male Low OL female High OL female High OL female Low OL female Low OL female Low OL male Low OL female Low OL male Low OL female High OL female Low OL female Scale on which compared Mean difference f Male Female Female Male Male Female Male Female High OL High OL Low OL Low OL High OL Low OL . For the differences between the means of High and Low Occupational Level Males and between the means of High and Low Occupational Level Females on the High Occupational Level scale.215 . High Occupational Level groups of both sexesscored higher on the scale for the other sex than did the Low Occupational Level groups. but p < . are given in Table 4.05 for High and Low Occupational Level Males and p < . The f-test results are shown in Table 3.036 .86** 2.Ol. significantly higher on the scale for the other sex than did the Low Occupational Level groups.012 . for differences between these means. For differences between means on the Low Occupational Level scale.05.07 1 .Ol.118 .llO . .046 4. p < .07** 2.71 2.Ol.was not significant. but the comparable difference for females.94** 6. For the differences between means of High and Low Occupational Level Males on the Male scale.65** 13. between the meansof the two High Occupational Level groups.Ol for High and Low Occupational Level Females.86** 5.085 . The difference between the means of the two High Occupational Level groups on the High Occupational Level scale was not significant.71** *p < . and between the meansof the two Low Occupational Level groups on both the Male and Female scales. conducted to determine the significance of the differences between mean scoresacrossgroups.Ol for the difference between the meansof the two Low Occupational Level groups on the Low Occupational Level scale.096 .

58 .DIAMOND Since it was noted that the differences between means on the Male and Female scales were considerably smaller for the two High Occupational Level groups than for the two Low Occupational Level groups.66 .78 .77 . Only the difference between the mean scores on the Male and Female scales for the two High Occupational Level groups was not significant.82 .48 .55 .24 .42 - - .77 .62 .80 .76 . p < . for all other differences.35 .58 . a third series of t tests was conducted to determine the significance of the difference between scores on the Male and Female scales across occupational levels and sex groups.312 ESTHER E.92 .40 .O1.32 .I6 .92 .78 .66 .70 - .80 .56 .70 - .76 .76 . Errors of Classification High Occupational Level subjects were more frequently classified correctTABLES Intercorrelations of the Scoreson the Four Experimental Scales Scale Group (N=75) in each) Male Total group High OL male Low OL male High OL female Low OL female Female Total group High OL male Low OL male High OL female Low OL female High OL Total group High OL male Low OL male High OL female Low OL female Low OL Total group High OL male Low OL male High OL female Low OL female Male Female High OL Low OL - .62 .58 .

Intercorrelations Intercorrelations of the scales. .05).24 for High Occupational Level with Low Occupational Level. Correlations are also given for each of the four groups.Ol). however. and the verbal factor is generally associatedwith the feminine end of the MF continuum. shown in Table 5. The findings also indicate a high degreeof relationship between the High Occupational Level scale and the Female scale. ranged from .OCCUPATIONAL INTERESTS 313 ly on the basis of scores on the High Occupational Level scale than on the basis of scores on the Male and Female scales(p > . Strong (1966. p. the strong association between the Male and High Occupational Level scalesmight reflect the fact that. interest in attaining a high occupational level is consonant with living in a man’s world. A possible explanation is that the interests of High Occupational Level subjects are highly verbal. which was interpreted to mean that they like books and art. 19) found that educated men in particular score toward the feminine end of the MF scale. Also consistent with the proposed hypothesis. the sameis not true for female subjects. and Low Occupational Level Subjects were more frequently classified correctly on the basis of scores on the Male and Female scalesthan on the basis of scoreson the Low Occupational Level scale(p < . that while for male subjectsthere is a high degree of relationship between high occupational level and interests. for women. DISCUSSION In general. For all four groups. For High Occupational Level Females. to . indicating the power of the scales to differentiate accurately between both occupational levels and both sexes. competing with males. identified with the feminine end of the MF continuum. and consequently having interests highly similar to theirs. differences between mean scoreson the High and Low Occupational Level scalesand on the Male and Female scaleswere significant. clean inside work.76 for Female with High Occupational Level. and activities that are typically “feminine” in society as a whole. sex differences with regard to interests appeared to be minimized at the high end of the occupational continuum but sharply differentiated at the lower end. It seemsapparent. with High Occupational Level subjects scoring highest on the High Occupational Level scale and Low Occupational Level subjects on either the scale for the appropriate sex group (Low Occupational Level Females) or the Low Occupational Level scale(Low Occupational Level Males). the differences between mean scores were in the direction suggestedby the hypothesis. possibly verbal. for the total group.

. Home-career conflict reduction and the level of career interest in women. on the other hand. The more education a woman has. 161. perhaps. S. about two-thirds of all women are employed as either nurses or teachers. is changing-though far more slowly than one might expect. 1967. G. H. W. 1970). and for each of the two occupational levels the degree of relationship with male and female scaleswas equivalent. 10% of all women workers were in technical and professional jobs.314 ESTHER E. 1970. 121. J. Low occupational level jobs are often more convenient for the married woman. 1959) and Harmon (1967) that the circumstancesof women’s lives may force them into occupations which they would not choose if they were free to select on the basis of vocational interests alone-that many women select their jobs on the basis of convenience rather than genuine interest in the work. & Hagenah. It is possible. W. a far stronger one than prevailed among high school graduates the same ages (57%) [p. DIAMOND For LOW Occupational Level Females. from the point of view of regular hours.. In 1950. most women teach in the primary gradeswhile most men teach in high school [p. These findings may reflect an ambivalence in the lives of women holding low occupational level occupations. Harmon. Jr. on the other hand. J. J. 228-232. E. L. 45. 1939. This explanation may in part also account for the fact that more Low Occupational Level Females than Low Occupational Level Males were classified as High Occupational Level subjects. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.” But even with this increase in percentage in professional jobs. the same report points out: “The broad category of professional jobs is a notorious example of a field divided along sexual lines. low pressure. Darley. compared with 15% today. and nearnessto home. Here. The picture. 23. the more likely she is to work.S. Women’s interests-fact or fiction? Personnel and Guidance Journal. Farmer. . 17.” REFERENCES Crissy. particularly if she has children. 895-900. 448-494. M. the correlations of the sex group scales with the occupational level scaleshad a much smaller range. Yet many of these women may be more highly educated than their jobs would indicate. Journal of Counseling Psychology. as has been pointed out by Strong (1943.. W. This high labor force participation rate “indicates a very strong commitment to both marriage and a career. approximately 70% of all women with 5 or more years of college. J. According to the U. and even as teachers. Vocational interest measurement. & Daniel.. are in the labor force. Males. & Bohn. T. are much more likely to go into occupations consistent with their education and ability. Department of Labor (Waldman. and more than half of all women with 4 years of college. Journal of Applied Psychology. 1955. Vocational interest factors in women.

Inc. & Zytowski. 1970 . Jr. Strong. Jr. Super. 130-143.. 1957. E. 11. Vocational Guidance Quarterly. Journal of Applied Psychology. Masculinity orc:feminity ? Differentiating career-oriented and homemakingoriented college freshmen women.. Women’s scores on the M and F forms of the SVIB. United States Department of Labor. A. 1951. Chicago: Science Research Associates. B. M. by D. E. 1940. 1966. 1956. Journal of Counseling Psychology. The vocational interests of professional women. New York: Teachers College.. Stantiel. 1943. Calif. Educational and Psychological Measurement. Seder. 1966. Stanford. D. 15. June 1970. Tyler. Vocational Guidance Quarterly. Laime.. 444-450. New York: John Wiley and Sons. E. G. Women at work: Changes in the labor force activity of women. 1968. J. K. Waldman. Bureau of Labor Statistics. MonthZy Labor Review. D. G. Roe. Reprint 2677. Columbia University. A. Career Pattern Study No. 116-118. K. Occupational Interest Survey. Calif: Stanford University Press. 1. General manual. 255-264. The psychology of occupations. 24. Vocational interests of men and women. The relationship of interests to abilities and reputation among first-grade children. E. 1970. L. D. Manual for Strong Vocational Interest Blank. Form DD. Strong. Administration of the SVIB Men’s form to women counselees. F. Vocational development: A framework for research. 22-21. 12. (Rev.OCCUPATIONAL INTERESTS 315 Kuder. L. 19. Received: November 30. F. 1964. Rand.: Stanford University Press. Campbell) Stanford. 265-212. Horace Mann-Lincoln Institute of School Experimentation.