Characteristics of an Occupation: Job Satisfaction/Career-Family Balance/Occupational Perception/Wage Potential

Review the Theory and Evidence.

Recommendations and Strategies*

  • Educate both genders about work/life balance: Conduct interventions for young men that focus on taking equal responsibility for childcare and household responsibilities.
  • Provide counseling to assist men in clarifying values: Men who have conflict between work and family responsibilities may have a higher incidence of depression. Career counselors should be prepared to assist men in considering a greater variety of careers by (1) helping them to clarify their values and to understand how social attitudes and values about prestigious careers and related issues may influence their career choices and (2) discussing the time commitments related to parenting roles. Providing learning experiences that “promote the development of self-efficacy in people-oriented occupations” can affect men’s interest in social occupations.
  • Assist students in realistically assessing desired work/life balances: Provide information about the flexibility of the job schedule and the ability to combine certain occupations with family responsibilities.
  • Provide information about workplace policies and practices that support both long- and short-term flexibility: Full- or part-time work from home, part-time work without promotion penalties, scheduling flexibility, and formal alumni programs are examples of policies that companies may have in place to be more family friendly and thus retain more female workers.
  • Review relevant findings: The following good practices in the workplace can be utilized to set an example of good practices in an educational entity.
  • Provide on-site child care: This practice is recommended; a separate daycare facility for sick children is desired but often not fiscally practical.
  • Encourage flexible work schedules: Job shadowing and part-time or flexible schedules are recommended.
  • Set an example: Extending the tenure clock by one semester or one year when a junior faculty member has a child.
  • Increase occupational choices for women: Increase the occupational choices of women by promoting the benefits of education in computer science, engineering, mathematics, and technology to women and girls and creating opportunities and incentives for women and girls to pursue STEM fields.
  • Provide comprehensive employment counseling that is sensitive to the unique needs of women: Job search, interviewing, and negotiating workshops that provide the “skills and information [needed] to combat some of the barriers to labor-market advancement that [women] face” might aid in neutralizing “demand-side discrimination.”
  • Teach negotiation: Educate employers to negotiate fairly with both men and women. Educate women on the rights and responsibilities inherent in negotiations.
  • Teach money skills to all: AAUW Educational Foundation Women at Work findings recommend enhancing women’s education and training in financial management and economic self-sufficiency.
  • Provide information about high-wage, high-skill jobs for females: According to a study by Miller and Hayward, girls prefer jobs that they believe should be performed by females. However, they will consider traditionally male jobs because of their higher status and pay. Career advisers should provide information on the range of jobs available at an early age.
Careers that give back to the community, directly or indirectly, can attract both men and women to nontraditional fields. Providing comprehensive information about high-wage, high-skill occupations, especially STEM, promotes participation in NTO.

Effective Practices and Resources

  • Johnson & Johnson’s reduced hour option has resulted in increased loyalty and productivity. New practices at Ernst & Young that included a focus on life balance, mentoring, flexible work arrangements, and networking for women resulted in a tripling of its percentage of women partners.
  • Cisco’s I am an Engineer video encourages middle school and high school girls and community college women to encourage their involvement with technology.
  • Work to enable sustainable well being in developing countries, completed by groups such as Engineers without Borders provides a different face of engineering to students.
  • Wi$eUp is a program designed for Generation X and Y women. Its goals are to promote financial security through online education and to encourage responsible saving habits for future retirement.
  • The Three Faces of Work-Family Conflict: The Poor, the Professionals, and the Missing Middle is a report that discusses understanding the disconnect between Americans’ widespread concern over work-family conflict and their policymakers’ inability to pass legislation to address this issue requires a portrait of why work-family conflict is so acute today.
  • Her Own Words The DVDs in the Her Own Words® series on women’s history and careers tell the stories of many women, ranging from pioneer women to women who are working right now in nontraditional careers such as construction, policing, welding, machining, and dentistry.
  • Discover Nursing by Johnson & Johnson displays the advantages and variety of nursing careers in this project which includes a full educational campaign based at this website.
  • The Gender Pay Gap American Association of University Women have provided state-by-state pay gap between women and men full-time workers.  Find out where your state ranks in the earnings pay gap.
  • Quick Facts on Nontraditional Occupations for Women from the US Department of Labor gives a currently listing of the non-traditional occupations for women and shows how non-traditional occupations for women have changed.
  • O’Net Online provides detailed career search information and crosswalks.

Survey Suggests STEM Careers May Not Meet Girls’ Goals. Minnesota’s’s website reported that “a Miami University team of researchers found that girls may avoid STEM careers because they are ‘perceived as less likely than careers in other fields to fulfill communal goals (e.g., working with or helping other people),’ according to the abstract in Psychological Science, the journal of the Association for Psychological Science.” Psychologist Amanda Diekman, who led the research, said, “We found that STEM careers, relative to other careers, were perceived to impede communal goals.” The researchers “took surveys of 333 introductory psych students, 193 of whom were women,” and “asked about their career interests, their abilities in different academic areas, and the importance they place on certain personal objectives.” The more strongly respondents approved of “helping others, serving humanity, intimacy, spirituality,” the “less likely the participant was interested in a STEM career.”

Provide information about high-wage, high-skill jobs for females: According to a study by Miller and Hayward, girls prefer jobs that they believe should be performed by females. However, they will consider traditionally male jobs because of their higher status and pay. Career advisers should provide information on the range of jobs available at an early age.

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