Literature Review Blog #4
Ma, Yingyi. "College Major Choice, Occupational Structure And Demographic Patterning By Gender, Race And Nativity." Social Science Journal 48.1 (2011): 112-129. Academic Search Premier. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.
“College major choice, occupational structure and demographic patterning by gender, race, and nativity” analyzes whether occupational segregation influences college major choice. The information used is derived from the National Education Longitudinal Studies (NELS), which provides information on college majors, as well as the Public Use of Micro data (PUMS), which provides occupational structure information. The author uses these two sources of information to integrate stratification research both in higher education and the labor market, in aim to prove that college major choice is the link between the two. This article examines occupational segregation by gender, race, and ethnicity, but for my purposes, I will focus segregation by gender. Results of the cross comparison between these two sources of information demonstrate that the most evident gender divide, in both occupation and college major choice distribution, lies between technical and life/health science fields, with women more predominantly majoring and later working in life-health science fields than men.
Yingyi Ma earned her Ph.D from Johns Hopkins University in 2006, with focuses in education, migration, and gender. Ma has written over 15 published scholarly articles in the last five years, as well as a book. She has raised hundreds of dollars in funds for education research in her specialized subject areas. I believe this author is an extremely reputable source to include in my final paper, not only based on her extensive research, but based on the diversity of her research areas. This article is unique in that includes race and ethnicity in its analysis of education and labor market segregation. I believe the inclusion of this perspective will be an interesting addition to my paper.
5. Key Terms
● National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS 1988-1994): provides information on college major and precollege information that may influence college major choice
- Based on nationally representative sample of high school students
- Contains information on students’ academic achievement, attitudes, and course taking
- (considers this information as influential to college major choice)
● Public Use of Micro data 1990 census 5% Sample (PUMS 5%): includes household and person records for a sample of housing, collected i a 1990 Census Questionnaire
- Includes detailed information on individual occupations (using 3-digit occupation codes)
- Superior to other national data sets because these three-digit codes allow for the inclusion of 500 occupations in the data set
6. Quotes (3)
“Previous studies investigating the factors leading to college major choice examine the micro level influences, such as abilities and interests...This study, while recognizing the importance of those factors, focuses on...the macro influences of the social environment at the societal level.” (115)
“Friends and siblings, teachers and parents are agents of socialization, encouraging students to cultivate their competence and interest in a particular domain field.” (115)
“For example, work traditionally associated with women, such as the caring and nurturing professions, is devalued. More generally, women receive less compensation working in female-dominated jobs than in male-dominated or gender-neutral jobs.” (116)
This article holds a lot of value, in several regards. First, although the focus of my paper will remain on gender segregation, it might be interesting to include some of the segregation by race and ethnicity that this article discusses. Particularly, the fact that sex segregation for Whites is the most severe among the four racial groups (White, Asian, Hispanic, and Black). It might be interesting to go into the implications of this finding, and tie that into my discussion of the societal influences that affect college major choice and, consequently, career trajectory. I also find this article's discussion of societal influences. Particularly its terminology, referring to family, peers, and educators as “agents of socialization” in a student's’ development. In conclusion, I think the most valuable aspect of this article is its final conclusion, which serves almost as a “bird's-eye view” of the entire phenomenon. This article's claim is that “seemingly individual choice of college major has deep structural roots at the societal level.” This is a broad claim, with may implication, that will be of value to my paper in that it will generate a great deal of discussion. I may choose to use this article as a focal point of reference in my final paper.