Influences on College Major Choice

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COLLEGE MAJOR CHOICE:
A STUDY OF INFLUENCES ON CHOOSING A MAJOR

Karissa Campbell, Criselle Crisostomo, Darren Moore
Department of Sociology
UCI
Winter 2011

Abstract

This study is an analysis of what factors influence student’s college major choices. Upon following previous scholars, it was noted that gender, race and ethnicity, and one’s family socioeconomic status are all significant factors in college major choice. There are distinguished trends and discriminations of college major and career choices between females and minorities. However, these typical trends vary depending on the student’s socioeconomic status. 35 student interviews of different gender, race, and socioeconomic statuses were then conducted to test to prove
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Raggl and Troman (2007) explain the majority of career changes to teaching are made primarily by women and further state that the teaching workforce still remains predominately by women at 83%. The article continues to analyze whether the choice of women becoming teachers are self-initiated, forced, or structural. In parallel to this, Messersmith (2008) examines, in a mixed methods study, the supportive and obstructive career related experiences of 26 men and women age twenty-five. They used interviews that focused on the steps towards or away from an information technology career. The study found that women’s perception that it was a male dominated field and actual discrimination could be a cost that leads women and minorities away from IT jobs. The idea of occupational stereotypes and gender-compatible preferences could already be seen practiced at the college level. Various studies found that the stereotypical perception that men are “better” at math, physics, and science to be true while women are much more likely to change majors if their initial choice was engineering in comparison to their white male counterparts (Gadassi and Gati 2009; Dickson 2010). Women are typically concentrated in subjects and work fields that have lower salary than men. There is an obvious correlation between gender and college major choice, which
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