Factors affecting the fertility preferences of college females

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Traditional conceptions of the female role have hindered female's career aspirations. This study proposed that current expansion of this role to include career achievement would depress fertility preferences, most especially for girls aspiring to high-status male careers. That is, individual status rewards would act as reward alternatives to childbearing.

Results obtained with a random sample of 147 junior-senior college women revealed that females aspiring to male careers had significantly higher career saliency and educational aspirations; and they desired extrinsic status rewards more than females aspiring to female careers. Male career aspirants more highly subscribed to achieving values and had significantly lower fertility preferences than girls not choosing careers. But fertility preferences of male and female career planners were similarly low; mixed career and non-career planners were similarly higher. Overall, the analysis indicated that career aspirations, career saliency and the desire for extrinsic rewards were each significantly related to lower fertility preferences. The desire for extrinsic rewards, however, was the only variable consistently associated with low fertility preferences when the types of career planned were considered.

Moderate to substantial positive associations were found for selected family socialization variables and career aspirations. Achievement motivation, QCA, higher socio-economic status were not significantly related to career aspirations, nor was social status significantly related to fertility preferences.

Being Catholic was significantly related to higher fertility preferences and lower career saliency. However, Catholics aspiring to male careers had low fertility preferences not differing significantly from those of other religions represented by this career selection.