Parents' Occupations and STEM Vocational Interests of High School Students

Mara Šimunović, Toni Babarović, Iva Šverko


The aim of this research was to determine the extent to which
parents' STEM careers can explain the vocational interests of
senior high school students. The sample included 463
students (33% male) who provided information on their
parents' occupations and completed a vocational interest
questionnaire (PGI-S) through a larger online survey. As a
measure of STEM interest, we used scores on the following
PGI scales: Data Processing, Mechanical, Nature/Outdoors,
and Things. Parents' occupations were coded into STEM and
non-STEM categories. The results indicate significantly higher
STEM interests in young men, with the exception of interest
on the Nature/Outdoors scale. Small effects of father's
occupation were found on the Things, Data Processing, and
Mechanical scales. An analysis of the interaction between
parents' occupations showed that on certain interest scales,
the positive effect of the father's STEM occupation was
present only if the mother had a STEM occupation. The
effects of parental occupations did not differ for male and
female students. The results outline the significance of
parental STEM occupations as a form of STEM capital, the
importance of examining the influence of both parents, and
the heterogeneity of student STEM interests.


STEM; parental influences; adolescents; vocational interests

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Copyright (c) 2020 Toni Babarović, Mara Šimunović, Iva Šverko

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Print ISSN 1330-0288 | Online ISSN 1848-6096