“What do you want to do when you grow up?” Occupational aspirations of Taiwanese preschool children

Hung-Chang Lee1
1Taiwan Shoufu University, Taiwan
Cite this article:  Lee, H.-C. (2012). “What do you want to do when you grow up?” Occupational aspirations of Taiwanese preschool children. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 40, 115-128.

Volume 40 Issue 1 | e2393 | Published: January 2012 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2012.40.1.115

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Occupational aspirations have mainly been investigated with teenagers, high school students, and adults. Following Gottfredson’s (1981, 2002) theory of circumscription and compromise, in which it is proposed that occupational aspirations originate in the preschool years, in this study the occupational aspirations of 1,044 preschool children in Taiwan were explored. Children who attended 38 kindergartens and were between the ages of 5 and 6, expressed their preferences about and gender orientations towards  occupations and careers. In general, the occupations Taiwanese children said they most desired to pursue were teaching, being police officers, and working as doctors. Most children can recognize the occupations of their parents at this stage, and the results in this research show that children still identify strongly with their parents’ stereotypical occupations. More boys than girls showed a preference for masculine-dominated occupations. More girls than boys showed a preference for nontraditional occupations. Factors that influence occupational aspirations were found to be parental identification and identifying with the role of teachers.
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