• This paper is based on the Division 35 Presidential Address given at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association, Washington, D.C., August, 1986. Thanks are extended to Rena Goldsmith, Janet Hyde, and an anonymous reviewer for helpful editorial comments. Support for this project was provided by grants from the National Institutes of Mental Health and of Child Health and Human Development and the National Science Foundation awarded to Jacquelynne S. Eccles. Address correspondence to: Jacquelynne Eccles, Research Center for Group Dynamics, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Box 1248, Ann Arbor, MI 48106–1248.

  • NOTE

  • 1. Recent time use studies add support to these concerns. Despite the fact that women are now working more hours outside the home, husbands and fathers still contribute little time or energy to child care or household maintenance (Goff-Timmer, Eccles, & O'Brien, 1985). In fact the wife's working status has very little effect on the husband's time use patterns either inside or outside the home.


Occupational sex segregation continues to exist and the occupational career paths of women and men continue to differ. This article proposes a model to explain these persistent, gender–role linked trends, summarizes evidence to support the proposed mediating psychological mechanisms, and discusses the social experiences that shape gender differences on these mediators. In addition, the article reviews the economic and psychological costs often associated with the traditional female choices and proposes interventions aimed at achieving a more gender–fair social system that does not devalue traditionally female domains. The proposed model links occupational choices to expectations for success and subjective task value, which, in turn, are linked to gender–role socialization, self schemas, and anticipated role and task demands. The importance of subjective task value is stressed, as is the need to study women's achievement–related choices from the women's perspective.