Work Preferences, Life Values, and Personal Views of Top Math/Science Graduate Students and the Profoundly Gifted: Developmental Changes and Gender Differences During Emerging Adulthood and Parenthood
Work preferences, life values, and personal views of top math/science graduate students (275 men, 255 women) were assessed at ages 25 and 35 years. In Study 1, analyses of work preferences revealed developmental changes and gender differences in priorities: Some gender differences increased over time and increased more among parents than among childless participants, seemingly because the mothers’ priorities changed. In Study 2, gender differences in the graduate students’ life values and personal views at age 35 were compared with those of profoundly gifted participants (top 1 in 10,000, identified by age 13 and tracked for 20 years: 265 men, 84 women). Again, gender differences were larger among parents. Across both cohorts, men appeared to assume a more agentic, career-focused perspective than women did, placing more importance on creating high-impact products, receiving compensation, taking risks, and gaining recognition as the best in their fields. Women appeared to favor a more communal, holistic perspective, emphasizing community, family, friendships, and less time devoted to career. Gender differences in life priorities, which intensify during parenthood, anticipated differential male-female representation in high-level and timeintensive careers, even among talented men and women with similar profiles of abilities, vocational interests, and educational experiences.