VOCATION AS CALLING: THE ROLE OF GENDER IN VOCATIONAL DISCERNMENT AND ACTION AMONG FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS Cindy Miller-Perrin Don Thompson Research.
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VOCATION AS CALLING: THE ROLE OF GENDER IN VOCATIONAL DISCERNMENT AND ACTION AMONG FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS Cindy Miller-Perrin Don Thompson Research Conference on Religion and Spirituality Division 36 – APA – Baltimore, Maryland April 1, 2005
Religion and Higher Education Higher Education traditionally separates academic and religious pursuits. Commitment to scientific or research-based approaches to knowledge. Lack of theoretical attention to faith and spirituality in terms of student development.
Faith and Spirituality More recent attention to faith and spiritual development among college students. Higher Education’s mission addresses the whole person (Stamm, 2004). Most college students interested in religious and spiritual matters (Young & Young, 2003).
College Student Development College years are “critical years” in development (Parks, 2000). College years marked by change in individual self and religious self (Lee, 2002).
Vocational Development College students consider issues associated with personal identity, faith beliefs, and career options. Higher education should help students discover and pursue their vocational callings (Crosby, 2004; Dalton, 2001). Little empirical work examines the nature and development of vocational calling.
Research Hypotheses Vocational Development is the intersection of Faith Development and Identity Development. Faith and Vocational Development are significantly correlated for all students. Men and Women discern and act upon vocational calling differently. Barriers to vocational discernment and action differ by gender.
Method Participants: 190 first-year college students. Private, Christian Liberal Arts 55% female; 45% male Age range 18-20 years (M= 18.66) 3% African American; 13% Asian; 72% Caucasian; 10% Latino
Measures Faith Attitudes and Behaviors Vocational Discernment and Action Vocational Barriers
Faith Attitudes and Behaviors SubscalesSample Items Strength of Belief (alpha =.81) I view myself as a religious person. I have doubts about whether my religious beliefs are true. Faith Behavior (alpha =.88) How often do you attend religious services? How often have you read a devotional, religious, or spiritual book in the last year? Application of Faith (alpha =.90) I depend on my faith in God for decision- making and direction. I try hard to carry my religious beliefs into all other dealings in my life.
Vocational Discernment and Action SubscalesSample Items Discernment and Purpose (alpha =.76) I have a good sense for my life purpose. I know of the many ways that I can use my gifts and talents within the context of my professional career. I am unsure about what God is specifically calling me to do. Service to Others (alpha =.68) I am motivated to choose a career that will enable me to provide some type of service to others. I feel a deep sense of responsibility for reducing pain and suffering in the world.
Vocational Barriers Subscales Barriers to life purpose fulfillment Personal Barriers (alpha =.84) Fear Emotional Problems Self-doubt Lack of motivation Interpersonal Barriers (alpha =.86) A parent A friend A boy/girl friend A teacher or professor Social and Cultural Barriers (alpha =.90) Lack of financial resources Feeling pressure or a desire to get married Feeling that my opportunities are limited by the gender stereotypes of society
Procedures Random sample of 300 students recruited from the 2002 entering class for Web survey. Response rate: 68%. Most survey items required Likert response using a 5-point scale ranging from “not at all” to “very much”. Participants received convocation credit for their participation.
Results Strong Relationship Between Faith and Vocation Significant Gender Differences Faith Attitudes and Behaviors Vocational Discernment and Action Vocational Barriers
Correlations between Faith and Vocation Scores Faith Total Belief Behavior Application Vocation Total.49**.36**.45**.51** Discern.30*.27**.25**.33** Service.49**.31**.48**.48** **p<.01, *p<.05
Gender Differences in Faith Attitudes & Behaviors
Gender Differences for Individual Faith Behavior Items Taking part in activities and organizations of church or place of worship Frequency of prayer Finding strength and comfort in religion or faith Feeling God’s love directly or through others Awareness of God’s presence
Gender Differences for Individual Service Items Plan to enter career that emphasizes service to others Feel a deep sense of responsibility for reducing pain and suffering in world Motivated to choose career that enables to provide service to others rather than career with financial rewards or power and prestige
Gender Differences for Individual Social and Cultural Barriers Items Lack of financial resources Societal gender stereotypes impose limits
Conclusions The current study provides: First empirical work to examine characteristics of vocational development in a college student sample. The current study provides support for theoretical propositions previously described in the literature.
Conclusions Faith attitudes and behaviors are strongly associated with vocational discernment and action. This relationship is consistent across gender. It holds true for males as well as females.
Conclusions Faith expression varies by gender. Application of Faith Females view their Faith as impacting their whole lives. Faith Behavior Females are more likely to practice the habits of faithful and religious life.
Conclusions Vocational discernment and action varies by gender. Females more likely to plan careers of service and to feel called to alleviate pain and suffering in the world.
Conclusions Experiences with barriers to vocational action vary by gender. Females perceive a greater number of barriers in fulfilling their life purpose: Personal Interpersonal Societal