Science Identity Predicts Science Career Aspiration Across Gender and Race, but Especially for Boys

Kaitlin Bodnar, Tara L Hofkens, Ming-Te Wang, Christian D Schunn


A recent approach to studying gender and race inequalities in science examines science identity: how strongly one associates themselves and identifies with the field of science.  Since adolescence is an important time for identity development and when science disparities begin to emerge, we investigated how gender and race relate to science identity and science career aspirations. A series of multinomial linear regressions applied to a dataset of diverse seventh and ninth graders from urban schools in the United States (n = 300) found that science identity was differentially associated career aspiration based on gender. In particular, science identity did not fully counteract gender disparities in science career aspiration: girls with a high science identity were not as likely as boys to aspire toward a science career. By contrast, students who are black with a high science identity were equally likely to aspire toward a science career as their white peers. The moderated relationship by gender goes against findings among postsecondary students suggesting that science identity can completely offset gender differences in science outcomes.  Therefore, these findings present opportunities for future study examining how gendered and racial factors influence science identity and career aspiration.


science identity, gender, race, science career aspiration

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