Future-oriented career cognitions among adolescents reared in military and non-military contexts

Open Access
Morrow, Craig David
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
November 29, 2011
Committee Members:
  • Lynn Susan Liben, Dissertation Advisor
  • Janet Swim, Committee Member
  • Kristin Buss, Committee Member
  • Eva Sharon Lefkowitz, Committee Member
  • career cognitions
  • military families
  • gender
  • sexism
  • career aspirations
  • career expectations
The occupations individuals engage in as adults have a significant association to reported occupational aspirations during adolescence. This study examined the association between developmental context -- being reared in a military or non-military family -- and the future-oriented adolescents’ career cognitions. The “combat exclusion policy” of the U.S. military precludes women from serving in many military jobs. Children reared in this context may internalize the idea that women are not capable of serving in some occupations or of achieving the same level of success as men in certain fields. This perception of gender as an obstacle can have a negative impact on perceived self-efficacy. The actual impact of military context on career cognitions, however, has not been investigated. Thus, the purpose of the present study was to explore the association between developmental context and future-oriented career cognitions among a sample of high school students in the United States, analyzing those associations for both context and gender groups. A secondary purpose was to investigate potential correlates of these adolescents' occupational aspirations and expectations. Results suggest significant differences in the career aspiration of girls between contexts with girls from military families having higher aspirations but similar expectations. No differences were found among the male students. Parental data suggests that fathers in military families may have less flexible gender role attitudes than their civilian peers and that rigidity of parents’ gender role attitudes is associated with reduced occupational self-efficacy among adolescents. Among children reared in military families, male adolescents reported significantly higher levels of occupational self-efficacy than their female peers. There were no gender differences in the levels of occupational self-efficacy reported by the students reared in civilian families. Findings of this study have practical implications in relation to providing appropriate career guidance for high school students from military families.