Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Workforce Education and Development

First Advisor

Hagler, Barbara

Second Advisor

Washburn, John


For more than 100 years, vocational psychologists and educational researchers have sought to identify the significant influences shaping occupational interests. This descriptive study used a series of vocational card sort exercises with 139 rural high school youth to identify gender differences in occupational interests toward working in 60 of the nation's fastest growing occupations, including new and emerging 21st century green energy roles. Through a classroom-based exercise, youth sorted cards from four decks into piles (1 - 5) at their desk. Sorting the card into pile (1) expressed Strong Dislike; pile (2) Dislike, pile (3) No Interest, pile (4) Some Interest, or pile (5) Strong Interest toward the occupational information depicted on each card. Four decks of 60 cards were used to measure youth expressed interest toward performing the occupational tasks (A), holding the occupational titles (B), working in the type of workplace environments (C), and using the type of tools and technology (D) used by workers in each occupation. A Total Occupational Interest Score reflected the summation of four scores from deck (A+B+C+D) by each youth toward each occupation. Significant differences in occupational interests were found. Female youth expressed strongest interest toward health care, and lowest interest toward green energy roles. Male youth were most interested in construction, transportation, advanced manufacturing, and homeland security. Both groups most preferred working in traditional roles for each gender to perform in the workplace.




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