Occupational Prestige Opinions of Iowa High School Seniors : (the 1976 Iowa Survey of Occupational Prestige)
Baty, Jackson N.
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The problem: Occupation has been described as a principal determinant of social status. Judgments are made of people on the basis of occupations. If other factors are equal, or nearly so, occupational choice will be based upon status -- and this is believed to be a combination of economic factors and prestige. Given the importance of occupational prestige as a factor in occupational choice, the problem is to obtain current and accurate evaluations of occupational prestige. This information can in turn be used by guidance counselors and counselor educators who are charged with assisting young people in making occupational choices. The 1976 Iowa survey of occupational prestige updates statewide occupational prestige opinions of high school seniors, and compares these current opinions with various state and national surveys conducted over the past half century. Procedure: The state of Iowa was divided into nine geographical regions. Small (fewer than 250 students), medium (250-499 students), and large (more than 499 students) schools were randomly selected from each region. Twenty-two high schools were included in the final sample, with a population of 2,864 seniors taking part in the survey. The 1947 North-Hatt listing of 90 occupations, together with 16 additional occupations, was randomized on five different questionnaires and responses were given by the seniors on IBM 509 forms. Computer analysis of the forms was facilitated by the Academic Computer Service at the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Iowa. Ratings and rankings of the occupations were then analyzed on the basis of total sample, sex differences, rural-urban residence, and school size. Comparisons were made with the 1925 Counts' study, the 1947 North-Hatt (National Opinion Research Center) study, the 1963 NORC replication, and the 1963 Blake study in Iowa. Findings: Occupations requiring a high degree of educational training, which receive substantially higher than average monetary rewards, which place more emphasis upon brain power than muscle power, and which offer a marked degree of service to others, ranked highest among the 106 occupations. Rank order correlations between plus 0.90 and plus 0.95, and product-moment correlations between plus 0.92 and plus 0.94 were found between the 1976 Iowa survey, the two NORC studies, and the 1963 Iowa survey. Significant differences were found between the manner in which young men and young women regard various occupations. Chi-square and "t" tests of significance were conducted. Although there was no significant difference overall when the rural-urban dichotomy was examined, there were more than two dozen individual occupations producing significant differences. There was no overall significant difference in the rating of occupations when the size of school attended was the variable. Again, there were numerous individual occupations meeting the Chi-square tests. Conclusions: Nine occupations met the .01 and .001 Chi-square tests for all contrasts considered (male-female, rural-urban, and school size). Six other occupations met the test for five of the six contrasts. Lawyer ranked as the number one occupation in Iowa insofar as the opinions of high school seniors were concerned. Ten of the 22 schools rated lawyer as number one. Physician was second, rated number one by seniors in five schools. Six other occupations ranked first in at least one Iowa high school. There has been a narrowing in the range of semantic differentiation in the rating of occupations by high school seniors over the past three decades. There is a marked degree of stability in overall rankings of occupations, but numerous occupations have declined sharply in prestige. Most evident of these are ministerial (pastoral) occupations and those associated with governmental service.
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