Factors influencing the educational aspirations of women pursuing a non-traditional career in law

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The purpose of this study was twofold: (1) to identify variables that can be used to describe women pursuing nontraditional careers; and, (2) to determine the individuals who had the greatest influence on the educational aspirations of these women.

A questionnaire, based on a review of the literature, was constructed to identify descriptive variables and factors influencing non-traditional educational aspirations. A self-administered survey was distributed to all women students at a southern law school. The completed questionnaire was returned by 123 women (41%). The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and two-way joint frequency distributions.

The major findings were:

  1. Both parents were equally as influential on the respondents’ educational aspirations, despite a markedly higher educational level indicated for the father.

  2. Sibl rank was not a contributing variable.

  3. Mothers were not used as role models by the respondents.

  4. Parents and significant-others were equally as likely to be seiected as the most influential person in determining the respondents' educational aspirations.

As the way in which the role of women in our society is viewed changes, the ·variables influencing the educational aspirations of women will continue to change. Researchers must be. aware of these shifts and not be satisfied with identifying influential variables at a given point in time.