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Special Issue: Identifying Barriers and Building Bridges
Published: 27-12-2023

Is there a “STEM Personality” in Germany? Linking Personality Traits with STEM Occupational Aspirations in German Secondary Education

Department of Sociology, Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany
Department of Sociology, Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany
Department of Sociology, Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany
Big-5-Inventory STEM Occupational Aspirations Gender Segregation Germany

Abstract

Across countries, young women are less likely to aspire to STEM occupations (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) than young men. Since STEM occupations often entail higher wages, it remains important for researchers to explain gender differences in STEM. In this paper, we examine whether students’ personality traits (Big Five) are associated with expressing preferences for STEM in German secondary education. To examine how girls and boys in secondary education match self-concepts of their personalities with beliefs about shared images of STEM occupations, we generate hypotheses based on Gottfredson’s (1981) theory of Circumscription and Compromise. Associations between personality traits and STEM aspirations are examined by multinomial logistic regression for a cohort of ninth graders from the German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS). The results show that personality traits are differently related to subdomains within STEM occupations, particularly for young women. Increases in all traits lower pupils’ likelihood of aspiring to scientific occupations and lower the likelihood of aspiring to technology aspirations. Despite the small and mostly insignificant effects, our results highlight the gendered processes of occupational formation at this age and underscore the relevance of providing more differentiated vocational guidance by gender and STEM domain.

How to Cite

Minor, R., Leuze, K., & Winkler, E. (2023). Is there a “STEM Personality” in Germany? Linking Personality Traits with STEM Occupational Aspirations in German Secondary Education. International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology, 15(3), 264–294. Retrieved from https://genderandset.open.ac.uk/index.php/genderandset/article/view/1454