Degree Name

Education Specialist (EdS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Paul D. Overton


The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which sex-biased items on an interest inventory stereotype the occupational interests by gender. Subjects were 194 eighth through twelfth grade students in rural, central Illinois public schools. A representative sample of students were administered a survey to determine which of these selection items depicted activities and occupations most commonly associated with males, females or both genders equally. Next, the interest inventory was revised to include only sex-fair terms.

Significant differences in occupational interests were found between males and females on the pretest using sex-biased selection items, with 73.3% of females scoring highest in Social Service and 62.5% of males scoring highest in Technical and Applied Science.

Posttest results indicated that the use of sex-fair items on inventories assisted high school males to explore a wider range of career opportunities. Sex-fair wording had little effect on expanding the career interests of high school females. Results may suggest the socialization of females in our society creates deep and long lasting effects which limit and constrict the potential of young women. Until the life experiences of females change, true gender differences will continue in career development.

In conclusion, results indicate the need for high school counselors to interpret interest inventories cautiously. Further, counselors should discuss with students the stereotyping effects of socialization on interest inventory results and encourage students, especially females, to also consider careers in their second or third choice interest area.