Career Development and Gender, Race, and Class Essay example

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Career Development and Gender, Race, and Class

Many theories of career development are derived from theories of personality (Sharf 1997). They attempt to illuminate the interrelationship of individual personality and behavior with work and careers. However, some prevailing career development theories were based solely on research on white males from middle- and upper-middle-class backgrounds, so their applicability to women, people of color, and other socioeconomic groups has been called into question. In addition, the focus on individual psychological or personality characteristics does not take into account the wider environmental context in which people make career decisions, thus failing to recognize the constraints faced by some
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Are the requirements for success in an occupation the same for people of color as for whites? For women as for men? (Leong 1995). Research has demonstrated real differences in the abilities of different gender, racial, and socioeconomic groups, but what factors brought about these differences? According to Helms and Piper (in "Special Issue" 1994), there is "no valid reason for explaining or anticipating consistent between-group differences on the basis of race per se" (p. 125); such diferences may result from shared cultural socialization experiences. Likewise, "differences in abilities, achievements, personality, interests, and values between men and women do exist, [but] they are often rather small" (ibid., p. 54).

Life-Span Theories. Trait and factor theories tend to deal with career issues at one point in time, whereas life-span theories take a long-term, developmental perspective (ibid.). The most widely known life-span theory is Super’s Theory of Vocational Choice, which suggests that individuals pass through stages of vocational development involving developmental tasks at each stage; it also considers the performance of multiple roles and their interaction across the life-span (Stitt-Gohdes 1997). However, some studies have shown that the life stages Super outlined are not exactly applicable to women, especially as their roles have changed in the last few decades (Sharf 1997). Super considered self-concept and vocational maturity to be important

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