Pediatrician or Professional Athlete? Gender, Ethnicity, and Occupational Aspirations of Urban Adolescents

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This study compared the occupational aspirations of beginning high school students by gender and ethnicity, and examined the relationship between the educational demands of the occupations desired by students and their academic performance before and after entering high school. Desired occupations were obtained from 662 entering 9th-grade students in a large urban district, and linked to General Educational Demand ratings and to student grades. Young women were more likely than young men to aspire to professional occupations and to occupations requiring more education. The educational demands associated with students' aspirations accounted for about 3% of variance in grades. Educational demands of desired jobs were highest across all groups for Latina young women and lowest for Latino young men. Forty-one percent of African American young men aspired to be professional athletes, but this aspiration was not associated with grade point average before or after entering high school.