Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Child Development


The major purpose of the study was to investigate antecedents of vocational choice in college women. Additional purposes include: development of a comprehensive instrument to assess vocational choice; subjection of the instrument to factor analysis; and identification of demographic differences by declared major;A Work Interest Questionnaire (WIQ) was devised for use in the study and consisted of 120 items organized around the areas of career considerations, role expectations, and work components. The WIQ was designed from literature search, review of established instruments, and input from faculty and students. The WIQ was administered to 437 junior and senior students in four groups of majors enrolled at Iowa State University: Child Development (N = 102); Food and Nutrition (N = 114); Social Sciences (N = 109); and the Biological Sciences (N = 106). Data were collected from students during regular classroom periods and by mail;Differences were found between students across majors on several demographic items. Sorority membership was found to be greater for Food and Nutrition majors, while Child Development majors desired the greatest number of children and had fewer mothers working outside the home than the other majors. Students in the Social and Biological Sciences declared their major later than the two groups in Home Economics; A greater number of higher degrees (master's and doctorate) were desired by those in Food and Nutrition, and Social Sciences, and especially in the Biological Sciences;The factor analyses identified eight factors, seven of which were usable for subsequent investigation. These seven factors were: Work Autonomy; Family-Work Flexibility; Parental Influences; Work Incentives; Promotion and Esteem; Parental Expectations for Daughter's Family Establishment; and Social/Family Orientation. Items from each of the three major theoretical sections of the WIQ (Career Considerations, Future Role Expectations, Work Components) were found to load within the eight factors and provided support for the original inclusion of these sections in a comprehensive instrument such as the WIQ;Between group differences showed Home Economics majors to be more traditional than majors in the Social and Biological Sciences. The use of the multi-dimensional approach to assessing vocational choice for women was substantiated by the results obtained from between group comparisons and the factor analysis of the Work Interest Questionnaire.



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Karen L. Peterson



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138 pages