Sociodemographics, Beliefs, and Attitudes as Determinants of College Students' Career Aspirations.

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From: Career Development Quarterly(Vol. 69, Issue 2)
Publisher: National Career Development Association
Document Type: Article
Length: 6,574 words
Lexile Measure: 1500L

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We sought to determine the extent to which sociodemographic characteristics indirectly influence the relationships among self-efficacy beliefs, feminist attitudes, and career aspiration domains. A group of college students (N = 1,129; 37% racial minorities) from an urban midwestern university participated in the study. Two moderation analyses were conducted and yielded interaction effects of Self-Efficacy Beliefs x Gender on leadership aspiration (p = .01) and Self-Efficacy Beliefs x Sexual Orientation on leadership aspiration (p = .050). Results indicated that a stronger endorsement of self-efficacy beliefs led both male and lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, intersex, and questioning (LGBQIQ) students to seek out leadership positions within their chosen career field. The effect of feminist attitudes on achievement aspiration was stronger for LGBQIQ students than for heterosexual students (p = .044). On the basis of these results, we present several recommendations to aid career counselors in their work with college students to promote an increase in self-efficacy and to increase career aspirations.

Keywords: career aspirations, college students, feminist attitudes, self-efficacy beliefs, sociodemographics


Career counselors often face the challenge of helping college students match their career aspirations to vocational possibilities (Tovar-Murray et al, 2012). Career aspirations denote the extent to which individuals are inspired to pursue an occupation in a particular vocational domain (Quaglia & Cobb, 1996). As a vocational possibility, career aspirations offer college students pathways to seek out "leadership positions, obtain markers of achievement, or continue their education within their chosen career field" (Gregor et al., 2020, p. 203). According to social-cognitive theory, these aspirational domains (i.e., leadership, achievement, and educational) are influenced by sociodemographic characteristics and self-efficacy beliefs (Lent, 2013). For instance, Bandura (1997) posited that self-efficacy beliefs govern aspirations, and college students are most likely to pursue their chosen careers if they perceive that they have the ability to achieve their aspirational goals. Having a racial and/or sexual orientation minority identity is also related to aspirational goals. Research has shown that racial and sexual orientation minority college students circumscribe their career choices under adverse conditions (Lidderdale et al., 2007; Tovar-Murray et al., 2012). Research also found that female college students who held positive feminist attitudes reported being inspired to pursue an occupation in a particular vocational domain (Thompson & Dahling, 2010).

Although the aforementioned findings showed significant main effects of self-efficacy beliefs and feminist attitudes on career aspirations (Bandura, 1997; Gregor et al., 2020; Thompson & Dahling, 2010), we found no study that simultaneously tested the moderating effects of sociodemographic characteristics on these relationships. We decided to use race, gender, and sexual orientation as moderators because these sociodemographic characteristics interact with self-efficacy beliefs to influence career choices (Lent, 2013; Lidderdale et al., 2007). Therefore, we propose that self-efficacy beliefs and feminist attitudes predict career aspirations among college students. We also postulate that race, gender, and sexual orientation moderate the direction and strength of these relationships.

Self-Efficacy Beliefs Influence College Students' Career Aspirations

Self-efficacy beliefs are perceptions people hold about whether they have die ability to achieve a desired outcome (Bandura,...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A666103288