When Gifted Boys and Girls Grow Up

Year: 2000

Author: LUPART, J

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Abstract:
A major problem with the research concerning female achievement in post-secondary education and career attainment, is the undue emphasis on deficit or comparison models, serving to instill the notion of female deficit or underachievement in comparison to male peers. This work, though informative, needs to be balanced with information about how females who are gifted and/or successful in a given field or discipline have been able to accomplish this. The purpose of the present research was to investigate the sources that contribute to the dynamic interaction of achievement-related decisions, career and adult life-role choices of females and males talented in the sciences using the Eccles model. Specifically, the overall study entails an examination of the key personal and educational factors that contribute to high achievement in the sciences, the factors favorable to the pursuit of programs and careers in science and related disciplines, the impact of the Shad Valley program on the advancement of interest and expertise for females and males gifted in the sciences, and, in particular, factors influencing female life-role choices in adulthood. The total sample consisted of 117 males and females from an initial subject pool of Shad Valley Program applicants. Two groups of subjects (males [n=51] and females [n=65]) were drawn for the years 1981 to 1985 (Time band 1); 1986 to 1990 (Time band 2); and 1991 to 1995 (Time band 3), with equal representation from across Canada. In stage 1, three questionnaires (University of Michigan, Study of Adolescent Life Transitions [adapted]; Values Inventory; and The Salience Inventory) were mailed out and completed by all subjects. In stage 2, telephone interviews were later carried out with approximately one half of these subjects. The present paper reports on several aspects of the latter telephone interview component. Specifically, stage 2a consists of general telephone interview data for the total sample of interviewed males and females (n=64), and for stage 2b, a more detailed overview of the responses of younger (n=5) and older (n=5) female interview responses on selected questions will be provided. The results and discussion sections for stage 2a and 2b are organized by the five broad categories of achievements, individual perceptions of how their math/science abilities impact several areas of their lives, social influences, life satisfaction, and exciting/regretful experiences. The analysis for stage 2a is focused on gender differences, and stage 2b is focused on differences in the responses of younger versus older female subjects. The paper concludes with a discussion of the major findings from this aspect of the overall research project.

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