Journal of Social Change




Two national datasets of first-year college students, collected a decade apart, asking the same questions about career interests and life goal endorsement, allowed us to investigate the extent to which the life goals and career interests had converged among young men and women. We compared the gender differences in four types of goal endorsement (communal, material, intellectual, and free-time goals) by career interest groups (science, engineering, medicine, health, and other professions) between the two cohorts (2007 vs. 2017). Conversely, we compared the gender differences in career interests by goal endorsement between the two cohorts. Our specific focus was on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) career interests. We found that significant differences have stubbornly persisted between male and female students preparing for STEM careers, particularly in the area of communal goals, whereas gender differences in communal, material, and intellectual goals have narrowed or disappeared for those interested in many non-STEM careers.