02 SES 05 C, Gender Differences, Social Inequalities and Segregation in VET
In many studies gender and social origin have been identified as central determinants of careers and career success (Heslin, 2005; Ng, Eby, Sorensen, & Feldman, 2005). For Switzerland with a school system of early tracking and selection processes the influences of family background and gender have been confirmed repeatedly and are particurly strong (Meyer, 2009; SKBF, 2010). The Swiss system of Vocational Education and Training (VET) operates on selection by companies and self-selection by individuals according to their level of edcation and gender (Bergman, Hupka-Brunner, Keller, Meyer, & Stalder, 2011). Even though girls equal or surpass boys in academic performance, gender segregation at the age of sixteen is prevalent; horizontal gender segregation often translates into vertical segregation on the labour market which is difficult to overcome (Hirschi, 2009). On entry into tertiary education individual factors gain more influence (Hupka-Brunner, Kanji, Bergman, & Meyer, 2012).
But what is the long term perspective? Is gender a determining factor for careers not only in adolesence and young adulthood but also in middle adulthood? Or are other variables such as cognitive ability and personality traits equally or even more important? Are there differences depending on the criterion of career outcome such as career success or fit beween personality and occupation? How do men and women adapt to changing demands of the labor market? Does the Swiss VET system with its early tracking provide women in service and customer related occupations in the long term with better chances on the labor market than men in technical fields undergoing rapid and pervasive changes?
Questions about the individual career development and its determinants can best be answered by longitudinal studies. In the last decades remarkable longitudinal studies in several industrialized countries have been carried which focus on professional development over a longer time span (Schoon, Martin, & Ross, 2007). Generally speaking these studies show that career development must be understood as a complex interplay between individual and social attributes embedded in a changing social-historical context.
If we speak of career success as the accumulated positive work and psychological outcomes a distinction is often made between objective (e.g. salary, occupational status) and subjective (e.g. satisfaction) career success (Heslin, 2005). As a group, human capital (such as education level) and sociodemographic factors generally displayed stronger relationships with objective career success; while organizational sponsorship (such as supervisor support) and stable individual differences (personality traits etc.) were generally more strongly related to subjective career success (Ng et al., 2005, p. 367).
Personality is an important factor in the choice and continuity of career development. As postulated by John L. Holland, career choice is a way to express one’s personality (Holland, 1997). The present study examines the relationship between personality and occupation based on Holland’s hexagonal model. As the thesis of graviation claims, the relationship between personality and occupation should get stronger over the years. Furthermore a good fit between personality and work environment is said to have positive consequences on vocational outcomes (e.g. job satisfaction).
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