The Career Development of Mexican American Adolescent Women:A Test of Social Cognitive Career TheoryLisa Y. FloresThe Ohio State UniversityKaren M. O’BrienUniversity of Maryland, College ParkThis study tested R. W. Lent, S. D. Brown, and G. Hackett’s (1994) model of career choice with 364Mexican American adolescent women. Path analyses were run to determine the influence of contextualand social cognitive variables on career aspiration, career choice prestige, and traditionality. Partialsupport for the model was evidenced as nontraditional career self-efficacy, parental support, barriers,acculturation, and feminist attitudes predicted career choice prestige. Acculturation, feminist attitudes,and nontraditional career self-efficacy predicted career choice traditionality. Feminist attitudes andparental support predicted career aspiration. The paths between nontraditional career interests and the 3outcome variables were not supported. Finally, none of the background contextual variables in this studypredicted nontraditional career self-efficacy. Implications of the results and suggestions for futureresearch are discussed.Mexican American women constitute a significant portion of theAmerican population (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1996), areunderrepresented at all levels of education (Carter & Wilson, 1993;Lango, 1995; McNeill et al., 2001; U.S. Bureau of the Census,1991), and are overrepresented in low-paying occupations traditionally occupied by women (Arbona, 1989; Arbona & Novy,1991; Ortiz, 1995). Relatively little empirical research has beenconducted to identify the variables that contribute to the educational and occupational underachievement of Mexican Americanwomen. Indeed, researchers have noted that the career development of Hispanics has received only slight consideration in thecounseling and vocational literature (Arbona, 1990; Fouad, 1995;Hoyt, 1989; McNeill et al., 2001), and they have questioned thegeneralizability of career development theories to Hispanics (Arbona, 1990, 1995; Fitzgerald & Betz, 1994; Hackett, Lent, &Greenhaus, 1991). The purpose of this study was to investigate theapplicability of a current model of career choice to the experiencesof Mexican American adolescent women and to extend the currentmodel to incorporate variables that are hypothesized to be salientto this population.It is well documented that Hispanics are the least educated whencompared with other major racial/ethnic groups in the UnitedStates and that, among Hispanics, Mexican Americans have thelowest high school and college completion rates (47% and 6.5%,respectively; U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1996). Mexican American women are less likely to graduate from college than their malecounterparts (Ortiz, 1995; Tinajero, Gonzalez, & Dick, 1991), andtheir representation in higher education decreases significantly ateach successive level (Carter & Wilson, 1993). Moreover, thoseMexican American women who pursue higher education confrontmany stressors and may experience psychological distress as theyseek to reconcile their career aspirations with their familial andcultural values (Niemann, 2001).Education is related to occupational status, and thus, the restricted employment status among Mexican American women isnot surprising given their low educational attainment. Arbona(1989) reported that, occupationally, Hispanic women were concentrated in low and mid-level technical, service-oriented, andclerical type jobs. According to Ortiz (1995), Mexican Americanwomen were less likely to be professionals or private businessowners and earned less money when compared with women fromother racial/ethnic groups and Mexican American men. Moreover,Mexican American women who were in professional occupationswere more likely to choose traditional and low-status occupations(Ortiz, 1995).A review of the literature on Mexican American women revealed inconsistencies between their educational and vocationalachievements and aspirations. For example, Arbona and Novy(1991) reported that the majority of Mexican American collegewomen in their study aspired to investigative and enterprising typejobs. It is interesting that the percentage of women who expectedto enter these fields was smaller than the percentage of womenwho aspired to these careers, whereas the opposite was true ofthose who aspired and expected to enter fields that have typicallyrepresented traditional career options for women. Other studiesLisa Y. Flores, Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University;Karen M. O’Brien, Department of Psychology, University of Maryland,College Park.This study was based on the doctoral dissertation of Lisa Y. Flores,which was conducted under the direction of Michael J. Patton. An earlierversion of this article was presented at the 108th Annual Convention of theAmerican Psychological Association, Washington, DC, August 2000.We thank Nancy Betz, Mary Heppner, and Fred Leong for helpfulfeedback on earlier versions of this article; Kristopher Preacher and RobertMacCallum for statistical consultation; Jamilla Griffin and Jason Quarantillo for assistance with coding data; and the students, teachers, counselors,and administrators of the participating schools.Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Lisa Y.Flores, Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University, 1885 NeilAvenue Mall, Columbus, Ohio 43210-1222. E-mail: [email protected] of Counseling Psychology Copyright 2002 by the American Psychological Association, Inc.2002, Vol. 49, No. 1, 14–27 0022-0167/02/$5.00 DOI: 10.1037//0022-0167.49.1.1414revealed that Mexican American girls aspired to careers that required a college degree and to obtaining a postsecondary education(Hernandez, Vargas-Lew, & Martinez, 1994; Valenzuela, 1993).Reyes, Kobus, and Gillock’s (1999) study indicated that 87% ofthe girls in a sample of predominantly Mexican American 10thgrade students aspired to nontraditional or male-dominated careers. Clearly, a difference exists between Mexican Americanwomen’s educational and vocational aspirations and their actualachievements, suggesting that these women may not be realizingtheir educational and career potential.Prior studies on the career development of Hispanics havefocused primarily on their educational and career aspirations (Arbona & Novy, 1991; Hernandez et al., 1994; Reyes et al., 1999)and the factors postulated to be related to their educational success(Cardoza, 1991; Fisher & Padmawidjaja, 1999; Gandara, 1982;Gillock & Reyes, 1999; Hess & D’Amato, 1996; Keith & Lichtman, 1994; Lango, 1995; Ramos & Sanchez, 1995; Rodriguez,1996; Valenzuela, 1993; Vasquez, 1982; Wycoff, 1996). Otherstudies have examined the barriers that Hispanic students anticipate in their educational and career endeavors (Luzzo, 1992;McWhirter, 1997). The research to date provides insight into thecareer development of Hispanic individuals but contains limitations that restrict its use.First, several studies are descriptive in nature, and while helpfulin understanding patterns of behavior with this group, they do notfurther knowledge regarding the salient predictors of career behaviors. Second, several studies included racially/ethnically diverse samples (in which the number of Hispanics were disproportionately small) or failed to report the ethnic background ofHispanic participants. Because of the educational and occupationaldifferences between racial/ethnic groups and among Hispanics,investigating ethnically diverse subgroups individually seems warranted (Arbona, 1995). Another limitation of the existing studies isthat many included both women and men. Given differences inMexican American women’s and men’s educational attainment,occupational status, and socialization within the culture, womenand men should be investigated separately to understand the effects of cultural and gender role socialization on career decisions.Finally, few studies have assessed the influence of cultural variables, such as acculturation, on Hispanics’ career-related behaviors(Arbona, 1995).One notable exception to the research described above was astudy investigating the educational plans and career expectationsof Mexican American high school girls (McWhirter, Hackett, &Bandalos, 1998). McWhirter and her colleagues studied the utilityof Farmer’s (1985) model of career commitment and aspirations inexplaining the educational planning and career expectations ofMexican American adolescent women. They extended Farmer’smodel by including acculturation and perceived barriers in theirtheoretical models. The results of this study indicated that theirmodels described the educational and career plans of a sample ofMexican American girls; however, only a modest amount of variance was accounted for by the models. Thus, McWhirter et al.encouraged researchers to include additional variables when developing future models of the career development of MexicanAmerican adolescent women. Moreover, McWhirter et al. suggested that Lent, Brown, and Hackett’s (1994) social cognitivecareer theory had promise for advancing knowledge regarding thecareer development of Mexican American women.Lent and his colleagues (Lent et al., 1994) extended Bandura’s(1986) social cognitive theory and Hackett and Betz’s (1981)career self-efficacy theory to develop a social cognitive careertheory (SCCT) that hypothesized the influence of personal, contextual, and social cognitive factors on interest formation, careergoals, and performance. Of interest in this study are the propositions of SCCT that background contextual variables exert aninfluence on career self-efficacy, which in turn directly influencescareer interests. In addition, Lent et al. posited that career interestsdirectly influence career goals and that career self-efficacy bothdirectly and indirectly (through career interests) influences careergoals. Finally, proximal contextual variables were hypothesized toexert direct effects on career goals (see Figure 1). Lent and hiscolleagues suggested that SCCT may be used to guide inquiry onthe career development of women and racial/ethnic minorities, andthey recently advocated for more research to test the hypothesesrelated to the contextual variables in their model (Lent, Brown, &Figure 1. Portions of Lent, Brown, and Hackett’s (1994) model of career choice tested in the present study.MEXICAN AMERICAN WOMEN 15Hackett, 2000). Recent studies provided partial support for themodel with racially diverse middle school students (Fouad &Smith, 1996) as well as Asian American (Tang, Fouad, & Smith,1999) and Black college students (Gainor & Lent, 1998); however,no studies to date have investigated the validity of SCCT withMexican American adolescent women.To test this theory, when operationalizing the constructs advanced by Lent et al. (1994), we selected variables that werehypothesized to be salient for racial/ethnic minorities or women.Specifically, in our model, we operationalized background contextual variables to include acculturation level, feminist attitudes, andmothers’ modeling through educational attainment and occupation. Multicultural researchers have identified the importance ofexamining within-group differences of racial and ethnic subgroups, and Casas and Pytluk (1995) discussed acculturation asone variable that differentiates Hispanic subgroups or individualswithin a subgroup. Moreover, McWhirter et al. (1998) noted thatacculturation was the only variable that they added to Farmer’s(1985) model that accounted for significant variance in the educational aspirations of Mexican American girls. Other researchersalso documented that acculturation was positively related to educational aspirations (Ramos & Sanchez, 1995), in addition tointerest in nontraditional careers (Reyes et al., 1999), collegeattendance (Hurtado & Gauvain, 1997), and achievement styles(Gomez & Fassinger, 1994) among Hispanic students.Other variables, specifically feminist and gender role attitudes,have been shown to relate to the career choices of young women(Betz, 1994; O’Brien & Fassinger, 1993), such that women withtraditional gender role attitudes exhibited lower levels of careerorientation and aspiration than women holding liberal gender roleattitudes. Among Mexican American girls, nontraditional genderrole attitudes were positively related to higher levels of educationaland career expectations (McWhirter et al., 1998) and academicachievement (Valenzuela, 1993; Vasquez-Nuttal, Romero-Garcia,& De Leon, 1987). For Mexican American women, cultural expectations about gender roles may result in traditional gender roleattitudes or nonfeminist attitudes (Ginorio, Gutierrez, Cauce, &Acosta, 1995; Reid, Haritos, Kelly, & Holland, 1995), which inturn may contribute to lower levels of career achievement.In addition, parental factors, such as occupation and educationallevel, were found to relate to academic achievement and parentalinvolvement in Mexican American students’ educational and career planning (Keith & Lichtman, 1994). With regard to theinfluence of mothers, having a mother who attended college waspredictive of college attendance and persistence among Latinas(Cardoza, 1991). However, other studies that assessed the role ofparents’ educational or occupational attainment in children’s educational and career aspirations reported no relation (Fisher &Padmawidjaja, 1999; Hernandez et al., 1994; Hess & D’Amato,1996; Lango, 1995; Reyes et al., 1999), possibly because of thehighly skewed number of parents with lower educational andoccupational levels in these samples. The influence of mothers’educational level and occupational traditionality were included inthe present study to determine their influence on daughters’ careerdevelopment.According to SCCT, these background variables were hypothesized to influence nontraditional career self-efficacy or confidence in pursuing nontraditional career-related tasks for women(Lent et al., 1994). In turn, nontraditional career self-efficacyshould exert a direct effect on both nontraditional career interestsand career goals (i.e., career choice prestige, career choice traditionality, and career aspirations). Indeed, these relations have beensupported in prior studies, which reported that career self-efficacywas related to career interests and careers considered amongHispanic students (Bores-Rangel, Church, Szendre, & Reeves,1990; Church, Teresa, Rosebrook, & Szendre, 1992; Lauver &Jones, 1991). In addition, research has shown that career interestswere related to careers considered among Hispanic students(Bores-Rangel et al., 1990; Church et al., 1992). These findingswere consistent with SCCT, which posited a direct link betweencareer interests and career goals.We also hypothesized, in accordance with SCCT (Lent et al.,1994), that the proximal contextual variables of perceived supportfrom parents and perceptions of barriers will influence careerchoice prestige, traditionality, and career aspirations. Among Latinas, encouragement and emotional support from families havebeen found to be predictive of educational achievement (Hernandez et al., 1994; Keith & Lichtman, 1994; Ramos & Sanchez,1995) and college attendance (Vasquez, 1982; Wycoff, 1996).With regard to perceived barriers, Hispanic students reported experiencing more barriers to education than students from otherracial/ethnic groups (Luzzo, 1992; McWhirter, 1997), and Mexican American women who experienced negative family attitudesrelated to their college attendance were more likely to attendcollege close to home (Wycoff, 1996). McWhirter et al. (1998)found no relation among perceived barriers and Mexican American girls’ educational or career plans. However, they suggestedthat the influence of perceived barriers on academic and vocationalgoals be further tested with additional samples. It is possible thatMexican American adolescent women’s increased levels of perceived barriers to their educational or career goals may alter theirdecision making, such that they plan to pursue careers that presentthe least resistance.In summary, this study was designed to test several tenets ofSCCT (Lent et al., 1994) with a sample of Mexican Americanadolescent women. Specifically, we explored the influence ofbackground contextual variables, namely, acculturation level, feminist attitudes, mother’s educational level, and mother’s occupational traditionality on nontraditional career self-efficacy. Additionally, we investigated the contributions of nontraditional careerself-efficacy, nontraditional career interests, parental support, andperceived barriers to career choice prestige, career choice traditionality, and career aspirations. These dependent variables wereselected because of their importance to women’s career development (Fitzgerald, Fassinger, & Betz, 1995; O’Brien & Fassinger,1993). A secondary purpose of this study was to obtain descriptiveinformation regarding participants’ demographic characteristics,career choices, plans following high school graduation, choice ofcolleges/universities, and reasons for choosing these schools,given the lack of data regarding this population and their careerplans.MethodParticipantsParticipants were Mexican American adolescent women enrolled in theirsenior year of high school. At the same time, Mexican American adoles16 FLORES AND O’BRIENcent men were surveyed for a later study. Participants were drawn from twolarge public high schools in a mid-sized town (a population of approximately 30,000) in south Texas. The community is close to the UnitedStates–Mexican border and is heavily influenced by the Mexican culture.A high percentage of U.S. citizens who are of Mexican descent live in thisarea, and this is reflected in the student population at the high schools, inwhich almost 95% of the students are Mexican American.A total of 931 surveys were distributed to students; 831 were returned(450 female, 381 male), resulting in an 89% overall return rate. Womenwho were in their senior year of high school and who identified as MexicanAmerican were included in this study (n 377). Of these women, 13 weredropped from the study because of incomplete data, resulting in a totalsample of 364. Participants ranged in age from 16 to 21 years with a meanage of 17.47 (SD 0.70). The average number of people living at homewas 4.83 (SD 1.71; range 2 to 13).Eighteen percent of the students (n 65) reported that they werefirst-generation Mexican American, with 37.9% (n 138) second generation, 11.3% (n 41) third generation, 19.2% (n 70) fourth generation,and 10.7% (n 39) fifth generation. With regard to acculturation level,17% (n 61) were categorized as “very Mexican oriented,” 38% (n 138) “Mexican oriented to approximately balanced bicultural,” 34% (n 123) “slightly Anglo oriented bicultural,” 10% (n 37) “strongly Anglooriented,” and 1% (n 5) “very assimilated, Anglicized.”The educational level of the female and male head of household,respectively, was as follows: completed elementary school, 24% and 21%;attended high school, 25% and 23%; high school graduate, 19% and 21%;attended college/university, 14% and 12%; college/university graduate,10% and 12%; and graduate or professional degree, 2% and 1%.Eighty-seven percent (n 317) of the students planned to attend a 2- or4-year college/university following their high school graduation, with theremaining students indicating plans to attend technical school (5.5%), work(3.2%), enlist in the military (2.1%), and marry or stay at home (0.5%).Among students with intentions to continue their education at a 2- or 4-yearcollege/university, almost half (43.2%, n 137) reported that they wouldwork either full time (1.9%, n 6) or part time (41.3%, n 131). Overa third (39.1%, n 124) planned to attend the local 4-year university,and 19.2% (n 61) planned to attend the local 2-year community college.The most often cited reasons for choosing to attend the college or university of their choice were because it was close to home and family (36.5%,n 116), had a good program of study (10.7%, n 34), was a goodcollege/university (6.9%, n 22), and was affordable or inexpensive toattend (4.1%, n 13). Sixty-eight percent (n 214) indicated that theywould rely on financial aid (e.g., loans, grants, and work study) to financetheir education, whereas 31.5% (n 100) hoped to earn scholarships, 26.5% (n 84) planned to receive financial support from theirparents or other family members, and 25% (n 78) planned to work.ProcedureData collection occurred during the fall semester of the school year.Student participation was solicited through English IV classes becauseevery senior was required to enroll in this class. Data collection occurredacross 4 days, and Lisa Y. Flores met with every English IV section (n 46) at both schools. English teachers escorted their students to a centralroom at the beginning of the class period and stayed to monitor students’behaviors.Packets containing an informed-assent form, an entry form for cashprizes, and the research instruments were distributed to students as theyentered the room. The questionnaires were counterbalanced to avoid ordereffects from fatigue. Participants were told that the investigator was interested in studying the career development of Mexican American adolescents. Students were told that it would take them most, if not all, of theclass period to complete the questionnaires and were encouraged to workquickly. The investigator told the students that two of the surveys lookedvery similar (each listed the same occupations and educational programs),but these surveys asked students to rate either interests or skills. Studentswere informed of a possible follow-up study and were invited to participatein future studies. As an incentive to participate in the study, students whocompleted and returned the surveys were eligible for a random drawing forcash prizes (10 prizes for $20 and 1 prize for $50).InstrumentsAcculturation level. The Acculturation Rating Scale for MexicanAmericans (ARSMA–II; Cuellar, Arnold, & Maldonado, 1995) was a30-item scale that assessed association with and identity with the Mexicanand Anglo cultures on two independent subscales. Participants respondedto the items using a 5-point scale ranging from not at all (1) to extremelyoften or almost always (5). An acculturation score was calculated bysubtracting the mean score for items on the Anglo Orientation Subscale(AOS) from the mean score for items on the Mexican Orientation Subscale(MOS). On the basis of their acculturation score, participants were categorized into one of the five acculturation levels described by Cuellar et al.(1995). Levels range from very Mexican oriented (1) to very assimilated(5). Middle categories represented bicultural individuals. Thus, high scoreswere indicative of a strong orientation toward the Anglo culture.The ARSMA–II, as well as prior to its revision, the ARSMA, is one ofthe most widely used measures to assess acculturation among MexicanAmericans, and evidence suggests that it is a reliable and valid instrument.Adequate internal consistency coefficients have been reported for the twosubscales with multiple samples (range from .79 to .83 for the AOS and .87to .91 for the MOS; Cuellar et al., 1995; Cuellar & Roberts, 1997;Lessenger, 1997). Reliability coefficients of .77 for the AOS and .91 for theMOS were obtained in the present study.Cuellar and his colleagues also reported a test–retest reliability estimatefor the AOS and MOS over a 2-week interval of .94 and .96, respectively.Concurrent validity was assessed by comparing scores on the ARSMA–IIwith scores on the ARSMA and yielded a correlation coefficient of .89.Concurrent validity for the ARSMA–II was further supported when its twosubscales correlated in the expected direction with the dominant group andethnic group subscales of the Stephenson Multigroup Acculturation Scale(Stephenson, 2000). Lessenger (1997) provided additional support forconcurrent validity when she reported that acculturation scores on theARSMA–II correlated positively with other acculturation measures. Construct validity was supported when acculturation scores on the ARSMA–IIwere compared across generations, and differences were found betweengeneration levels in the expected directions (Cuellar et al., 1995; Lessenger, 1997).Feminist attitudes. The Attitudes Toward Feminism and the Women’sMovement Scale (FWM; Fassinger, 1994) was used to measure feministattitudes. The FWM is a 10-item scale that assessed attitudes about thefeminist movement. Participants rated their agreement with the items alonga 5-point scale ranging from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5).Scale scores were obtained by averaging the items; high scores reflectprofeminist attitudes.Fassinger (1994) reported that the FWM had high internal consistency( .89), and O’Brien and Fassinger (1993) reported an internal reliabilitycoefficient of .82 for the FWM with a sample of adolescent women.Cronbach’s alpha for this sample was .68. Enns and Hackett (1990)reported a 2-week test–retest reliability coefficient of .81 with femalecollege students. Convergent validity for the FWM was supported when theFWM was positively correlated with measures assessing attitudes towardwomen, gender roles, and feminism (Enns & Hackett, 1990; Fassinger,1994). In addition, the FWM correlated positively with items assessingfeminist identification and favorability toward the women’s movement(Fassinger, 1994). Finally, Enns and Hackett (1990) reported that the FWMcorrelated in the expected directions with both interest and involvement infeminist activities. Divergent validity estimates revealed that the FWM wasMEXICAN AMERICAN WOMEN 17not measuring gender role characteristics, dogmatism, and social desirability (Fassinger, 1994).Mother’s level of education. A single item asked participants to indicate the highest level of education completed by their mother. Optionsranged from elementary school to graduate/professional school. Highscores represented high levels of education.Mother’s occupational traditionality. An item asked participants toindicate their mother’s occupation, which was later categorized accordingto traditionality. Traditionality of mother’s career was computed on thebasis of the percentage of women employed in a given career and wasobtained through the Statistical Abstract of the United States (1998), apublication of the U.S. Bureau of the Census. The U.S. Census Bureaurelies on information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Employment and Earnings to report these data. Scores ranged from 6 to 99,with high scores representing careers with high concentrations of women.This indicator of career orientation has been used in previous studies ofwomen’s career development (O’Brien, 1996; O’Brien & Fassinger, 1993;O’Brien, Friedman, Tipton, & Linn, 2000).Nontraditional career self-efficacy. Self-efficacy expectations with regard to nontraditional occupations were assessed using a short form of theoccupational self-efficacy questionnaire used by Church et al. (1992). Theself-efficacy questionnaire used in this study was comparable with careerself-efficacy measures used by Betz and Hackett (1981) and Lauver andJones (1991). The original occupational questionnaire contained a totalof 31 occupations for which participants rated their confidence in theirability to successfully learn to perform the job. The nontraditional careerself-efficacy scale used for this study was modified to include sevenmale-dominated occupations (e.g., electronic equipment repairer, policeofficer, mechanical engineer). Occupations were categorized according tothe percentage of women in the occupation according to U.S. census data(U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1998). A brief description of the occupationwas provided for each job title.Participants were asked to rate their confidence in their ability and skillsto successfully learn to do the jobs. Participants responded to the itemsusing a scale ranging from very unsure (1) to very sure (4). Althoughstudies typically use 5-point scales to measure strength of self-efficacy, wefollowed the reasoning of Bores-Rangel et al. (1990), whose samplepredominantly consisted of Hispanic students, that students may dependably and meaningfully discriminate these four bipolar levels. Occupationalself-efficacy scores for male-dominated occupations were obtained byaveraging the responses to the items. High scores reflected strong levels ofnontraditional career self-efficacy.Church et al. (1992) reported an internal consistency reliability of .95 forthe 31-item self-efficacy scale with a sample of predominantly Hispanicracial/ethnic minority high school students. Convergent validity was supported with a sample of Mexican American boys when nontraditionalcareer self-efficacy was positively related to nontraditional career interests,consideration of nontraditional careers, and selection of careers dominatedby men (Flores, 2000). Divergent validity estimates indicated that nontraditional career self-efficacy was not related to acculturation or feministattitudes (Flores, 2000). Church et al. reported that the self-efficacy scalewas not measuring aptitude. An alpha coefficient of .81 for the shortversion of the nontraditional self-efficacy scale was obtained in the presentstudy.Nontraditional career interests. Students’ nontraditional occupationalinterests were assessed using the same male-dominated occupations on thenontraditional career self-efficacy scale. Participants were asked to indicatetheir interest in the jobs listed on a scale ranging from dislike (1) to like (3);this scale is similar to ones used in other career interest inventories. Scoringthe nontraditional career interests scale consisted of summing the items anddividing by the number of items to obtain a mean score. High scoresreflected strong levels of interest for the nontraditional or male-dominatedoccupations.Church et al. (1992) reported an internal consistency reliability of .86 forthe 31-item interest scale with a sample comprising mainly Hispanicstudents. Construct validity was supported when the original scale correlated positively with another interest measure (Church et al., 1992). Inaddition, among a group of Mexican American boys, it correlated positively with nontraditional career self-efficacy, consideration of nontraditional careers, and choice of nontraditional careers, providing support forconvergent validity (Flores, 2000). It was not related to feminist attitudes(Flores, 2000). Cronbach’s alpha was .74 for the present study.Parental support. The Career Support Scale (CSS; Binen, Franta, &Thye, 1995) was used to assess the amount of perceived support andencouragement that participants received in their career pursuits from theirparents. The CSS was adapted by assessing support from both parentsconcurrently rather than individually and by reducing the number of items(10 items that were cross-listed on both Mother and Father subscales wereretained). Sample items included “My parents agree with my career goals”and “My parents and I often discuss my career plans.” Participants responded to the 10 items using a 5-point scale ranging from almost never (1)to almost always (5). Scale scores were obtained by averaging the items.High scores reflected strong levels of perceived support from parents.Reliability estimates were .87 for the 22-item Mother–CSS and .90 forthe 18-item Father–CSS (Binen et al., 1995). Internal consistency for themodified CCS used in the present study was .76. Discriminant validityestimates indicated that the Mother and Father subscales were not significantly correlated with social desirability (Binen et al., 1995).Perceived occupational barriers. The Perceptions of Barriers scale(POB; McWhirter, 1997) was a 24-item scale that assessed ethnic andgender-related occupational and educational barriers. Because the presentstudy assessed career choice goals, only those items of the POB thatmeasured participants’ job-related barriers were included. Eight items,which assessed anticipated future gender and ethnic discrimination in theworkplace, were used for this study. Individuals responded to the itemsusing a scale ranging from strongly agree (1) to strongly disagree (5).Scale scores were derived by averaging the responses. High scores reflected low anticipation of gender or ethnic discrimination in a career.McWhirter (1997) reported an alpha coefficient of .89 for the jobdiscrimination items, and a reliability estimate of .91 was obtained with thepresent sample. Construct validity was supported when McWhirter (1997)found significant differences in anticipated job discrimination betweenMexican American and European American students, boys and girls, andMexican American girls and European American girls in the expecteddirections.Career choice prestige and traditionality. Participants were asked tolist their top three career choices. The traditionality rating of the top careerchoice was obtained with the same procedure for mothers’ occupationaltraditionality.Career choice prestige was determined on the basis of Stevens andFeatherman’s (1981) socioeconomic index of occupational status. Scoresranged from 13 to 89, with high scores indicating prestigious careers. Thisindicator of career choice has been used in previous studies of women’sand racial/ethnic minorities’ career development (O’Brien, 1996; O’Brien& Fassinger, 1993; O’Brien et al., 2000; Tang et al., 1999).Career aspiration. The Career Aspiration Scale (CAS; O’Brien, 1992)contained 10 items that assessed participants’ goals and plans within theircareer field. Example items included “I plan on developing as an expert inmy career field” and “I do not plan on devoting energy in getting promotedin the organization or business I am working in.” Participants indicatedwhether the items applied to them by using a 5-point scale ranging from notat all true of me (0) to very true of me (4). Scale scores were derived bycalculating the mean score for the items. High scores indicated strongaspirations in one’s career pursuits.Internal consistency of the CAS has been reported as .76 (O’Brien &Fassinger, 1993) with female high school students and .77 (Dukstein &O’Brien, 1994) and .80 (Nauta, Epperson, & Kahn, 1998) with female18 FLORES AND O’BRIENundergraduate students. In the present study, a reliability coefficient of .61was obtained. Convergent validity for the CAS was supported by relationswith multiple role self-efficacy, career decision-making self-efficacy, andcareer salience (O’Brien, Gray, Tourajdi, & Eigenbrode, 1996). Discriminant validity was demonstrated through the absence of relations betweenthe CAS and social desirability, as well as a negative relation between theCAS and a measure of the relative importance of career versus family(O’Brien et al., 1996).Demographic information. A demographic information survey wasincluded to obtain age, gender, race/ethnicity, grade level, number ofpeople living at home, family income, plans following high school graduation, parents’ level of education, and parents’ occupations. If participantswere planning to continue their education following high school, information regarding their major of study, choice of college/university to attend,sources of financial support for education, and reasons for choosing thecollege/university was obtained.ResultsThe means, standard deviations, ranges, and reliability coefficients for each of the measured variables, along with a correlationmatrix, are presented for the full sample in Table 1.Model Predicting Mexican American Adolescent Women’sCareer Choice PrestigeThe original sample of 364 Mexican American young womenwas randomly split into two samples. A sample consisting of 262women was used to test the original models, and a validationsample consisting of 102 women was set aside for confirmationpurposes in the case that any of the models were revised. A pathanalysis was conducted using the EQS (Version 5.7) statisticalpackage (Bentler & Wu, 1995).The hypothesized model predicting career choice prestige testedthe paths from acculturation level, feminist attitudes, mothers’educational level, and mothers’ occupational traditionality to nontraditional career self-efficacy; nontraditional career self-efficacyto nontraditional career interests; and nontraditional career selfefficacy, nontraditional career interests, parental support, and perceived future barriers to career choice prestige. The exogenousvariables, which included the background and proximal contextualvariables, in the model were allowed to covary.Adequacy of model fit was determined by using a variety ofgoodness-of-fit measures, including the chi-square test, the comparative fit index (CFI), the goodness-of-fit index (GFI), the rootmean-square error of approximation (RMSEA), and the standardized root-mean-squared residual (SRMR). The CFI and RMSEAgoodness-of-fit measures are preferred indexes by which to assessmodel fit (Loehlin, 1998).If a model provides adequate fit, a small chi-square value and anonsignificant p value are expected. Values for the CFI and GFIindexes range from 0 to 1; models with values above .90 havetraditionally been considered models with good fit (Loehlin,1998); however, values of .95 and higher are suggested today asthe baseline to assess model fit. Models with RMSEA and SRMRvalues around or below .05 (“close fit”) are considered acceptablemodels (Loehlin, 1998). To further test the adequacy of the model,Hu and Bentler (1999) recommended joint criteria to minimize thedual threats of rejecting the right model and retaining the wrongmodel. Specifically, a model can be retained if the CFI is .96 andthe SRMR is .10, or the RMSEA is .06 and SRMR is .10.See Table 2 for a summary of the goodness-of-fit indices for thecareer prestige model.The chi-square statistic for the model predicting career choiceprestige was significant, suggesting a poor fit. However, given thatthe chi-square statistic is overly stringent in its evaluation of exactfit (Quintana & Maxwell, 1999), other indexes were studied.Examination of the CFI, RMSEA, and SRMR indexes implied thatthe data fit the model poorly, indicating that the fit between thedata and model could be improved. Thus, the model was rejected.We attempted to identify modifications to the model to improvethe fit of the model and followed the suggestions of MacCallum,Roznowski, and Necowitz (1992) that changes be made only whenthey are theoretically meaningful. The Lagrange multiplier testsuggested that the model could be improved by adding paths fromacculturation level and feminist attitudes to career choice prestige.The influence of acculturation level on career choice prestige wasconsistent with prior research, which indicated that among racial/Table 1Means, Standard Deviations, Ranges, Reliability Coefficients, and Correlations Among the Measured VariablesVariable M SD Range 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Acculturation level 2.42 0.93 1–5 —
Attitudes toward feminism 3.43 0.43 1–5 .68 .15* —
Mothers’ level of education 2.65 1.37 1–6 .47* .13* —
Mothers’ occupationaltraditionality85.08 17.31 16–99 .09 .09 .21* —
Nontraditional careerself-efficacy1.75 0.68 1–4 .81 .03 .07 .04 .01 —
Nontraditional career interests 1.45 0.43 1–3 .74 .05 .12* .12* .05 .59* —
Career choice traditionality 56.58 27.02 6–99 .23* .15* .17* .12* .18* .12* —
Career choice prestige 64.43 18.59 13–89 .17* .01 .16* .11 .09 .01 .44* —
Career aspiration 2.48 0.53 0–4 .61 .11* .31* .12 .01 .10* .12* .02 .05 —
Parental support 4.16 0.72 1–5 .76 .09 .03 .14* .02 .09 .08 .03 .13* .13* —
Perceived occupational barriers 3.97 0.81 1–5 .91 .05 .04 .06 .01 .07 .12* .07 .11 .03 .12* —Note. Statistics are reported for the full sample of 364 Mexican American adolescent women.

p .05.MEXICAN AMERICAN WOMEN 19ethnic minorities in the United States, levels of acculturation candirectly and indirectly influence career choice and career expectations (Leong & Chou, 1994; McWhirter et al., 1998; Tang et al.,1999). Adding the path from feminist attitudes to career choiceprestige was justified on the basis of prior research that supportedthe relation between feminist attitudes (Fassinger, 1990; O’Brien& Fassinger, 1993) and career outcomes, such as educationalachievement or career choices.The model was rerun with these changes, and the fit indexesindicated a superior fit to the data (see Table 2 for a summary ofthe fit indexes for the initial and revised model predicting careerchoice prestige). Comparing the chi-square statistic for the initialand the revised models allows a determination of whether themodifications resulted in significant improvement in the model’sfit (Quintana & Maxwell, 1999). The revised model was a significant improvement over the initial model, 2 difference(2, N 262) 39.94, p .01.Because revisions were made to the original model and becausemodifications were based on data from the calibration sample, itwas necessary to validate the revised model using the secondsample. The modified model was run with the validation sample,and the fit indexes with this group were satisfactory (see Table 2).To determine whether the corresponding paths had the same valuesacross both groups, we performed a multiple group analysis withGroup 1 as the calibration sample (n 262) and Group 2 as thevalidation sample (n 102). This analysis runs the model simultaneously for both groups and follows a two-step procedure. First,the revised model was tested and the path values were estimatedfor each group. Next, we tested the revised model again with allpaths constrained to have equal values across both groups. Acomparison of the chi-square statistic for the multiple group analysis with no constraints and the multiple group analysis withconstraints determines whether these models were significantlydifferent. If the chi-square difference between the constrained andnonconstrained models is significant, the path coefficients differacross samples. The model predicting career prestige resulted in anonsignificant chi-square value, 2(11, N 364) 24.95, p .05, indicating that the paths values were not significantly differentacross the two groups. Thus, the modified model was replicatedsatisfactorily with the two samples of Mexican American adolescent women, providing support for the revised model. Table 3presents the results of the multigroup comparisons for the modelpredicting career choice prestige.The next step involved running the revised model using thecombined sample of 364 Mexican American adolescent womengiven that the model was replicated for both groups. See Table 2for a summary of the fit indexes. The squared multiple correlationcoefficient (R2) was obtained by squaring the residual coefficientof the criterion variable and subtracting that value by 1. The R2 forthe model of career prestige indicated that 8% of the variance incareer choice prestige was accounted for by acculturation level,feminist attitudes, nontraditional career self-efficacy, nontraditional career interests, parental support, and perception of futurebarriers. See Figure 2 for the revised model predicting MexicanAmerican girls’ career choice prestige.Model Predicting Mexican American Adolescent Women’sCareer Choice TraditionalityThe hypothesized model predicting career choice traditionalitytested the same paths identified in the career prestige model,Table 2Summary of Model-Fit StatisticsModel 2 df p CFI GFI RMSEA 90% CI for RMSEA SRMRHypothesized career choice prestige modela 50.28 12 .01 .84 .96 .11 (0.080, 0.143) .07Revised career choice prestige modela 10.34 10 .41 .99 .99 .01 (0.000, 0.069) .03Revised career choice prestige modelb 13.31 10 .21 .96 .97 .06 (0.000, 0.129) .05Revised career choice prestige modelc 19.14 10 .04 .97 .99 .05 (0.011, 0.084) .04Hypothesized career choice traditionality modela 36.35 12 .01 .89 .97 .09 (0.056, 0.122) .06Revised career choice traditionality modela 11.31 10 .33 .99 .99 .02 (0.000, 0.073) .03Revised career choice traditionality modelb 13.48 10 .20 .96 .97 .06 (0.000, 0.130) .05Revised career choice traditionality modelc 18.92 10 .04 .97 .99 .05 (0.010, 0.083) .04Hypothesized career aspiration modela 34.65 12 .01 .89 .97 .09 (0.053, 0.119) .06Revised career aspiration modela 11.36 11 .41 .99 .99 .01 (0.000, 0.066) .03Revised career aspiration modelb 12.52 11 .33 .99 .97 .04 (0.000, 0.114) .05Revised career aspiration modelc 18.47 11 .07 .98 .99 .04 (0.000, 0.076) .04Note. CFI comparative fit index; GFI goodness-of-fit index; RMSEA root-mean-square error of approximation; CI confidence interval;SRMR standardized root-mean-squared residual. a Calibration sample (n 262). b Validation sample (n 102). c Full sample (n 364 Mexican American girls).Table 3Summary of Multigroup Analyses Between Split Sample ofMexican American Adolescent WomenModel 2 dfCareer choice prestige model, no constraints 23.64 20Career choice prestige model with constraints 48.59 31Comparison of career choice prestige models 24.95* 11Career choice traditionality model, no constraints 23.88 22Career choice traditionality model with constraints 30.13 32Comparison of career traditionality models 6.25* 10Career aspiration model, no constraints 24.79 20Career aspiration model with constraints 33.39 31Comparison of career aspiration models 8.60* 11Note. Significance test refers to chi-square difference tests between constrained and nonconstrained models.
p .05.20 FLORES AND O’BRIENexcept that career choice traditionality was used as the criterionvariable. The contextual variables in the model were allowed tocovary.The chi-square statistic for the model predicting career choicetraditionality was significant, suggesting that the model demonstrated poor fit. Examination of the CFI, RMSEA, and SRMRimplied a poor fit with the data; however, the GFI indicated anadequate fit. On the basis of Hu and Bentler’s (1999) criteria, themodel of career choice traditionality was rejected.Again, attempts were made to identify modifications to themodel based on suggestions that were theoretically sound. Addingpaths from acculturation level and feminist attitudes to careerchoice traditionality were suggested by the Lagrange multiplier,and these additions were justified on the basis of previous research(Fassinger, 1990; Leong & Chou, 1994; McWhirter et al., 1998;O’Brien & Fassinger, 1993; Tang et al., 1999) that found relationsamong acculturation levels, feminist attitudes, and career choice.The model was rerun with the modifications and the fit indicesimproved (see Table 2 for a summary of the fit indexes for theinitial and revised model predicting career choice traditionality).The values on the CFI and GFI exceeded .95, and the RMSEA andSRMR values were less than .05. Further, the revised model metHu and Bentler’s (1999) recommended criteria for model acceptance. The chi-square difference test indicated that the revisedmodel was a significant improvement over the initial model, 2difference(2, N 262) 25.04, p .01.Consistent with the previous method of analysis, the revisedmodel predicting career choice traditionality was tested on thevalidation sample. On the basis of the fit indexes (see Table 2), therevised model was supported with this sample. We performed amultiple group analysis to determine if the path coefficients in themodified model predicting career choice traditionality could bereplicated in the second sample. The chi-square difference betweenthe constrained and nonconstrained models resulted in a nonsignificant chi-square value, 2(11, N 364) 6.25, p .05,indicating that the values for the paths were not significantlydifferent across the two groups. Thus, the revised model and thecorresponding path values were validated with the validation sample. Table 3 presents the results of the multiple group comparisonsfor the model predicting career choice traditionality.Because the model was replicated with an independent sample,the calibration and validation samples were combined, and therevised model was run using the full sample. See Table 2 for asummary of the fit indexes. The squared multiple correlationcoefficient in the revised model of career traditionality indicatedthat 11% of the variance in career choice traditionality was accounted for by acculturation level, feminist attitudes, nontraditional career self-efficacy, nontraditional career interests, parentalsupport, and perception of future barriers. See Figure 3 for therevised model predicting Mexican American girls’ career choicetraditionality.Model Predicting Mexican American Adolescent Women’sCareer AspirationThe hypothesized model predicting career aspiration tested thesame paths identified in the previous models, except that careeraspiration was used as the criterion variable. The exogenous variables in the model were allowed to covary.The chi-square statistic for the model predicting career aspirations was significant, suggesting that the model demonstrated poorfit. Examination of the CFI, RMSEA, and SRMR fit indexesindicated a poor fit with the data; however, the GFI indicatedadequate fit. By using Hu and Bentler’s (1999) criteria, the originalmodel was rejected.Respecifications to the model were suggested on the basis of theLagrange multiplier modification index. The addition of a pathfrom feminist attitudes to career aspiration was suggested and wassupported by prior research (Fassinger, 1990; O’Brien & Fassinger, 1993).Figure 2. Respecified model predicting Mexican American adolescent women’s career choice prestige.*p .05.MEXICAN AMERICAN WOMEN 21The revised model was reestimated and the fit indices improved(see Table 2 for a summary of the fit indexes for the initial andrevised model predicting career aspiration). Examination of thechi-square differences between the two models indicated that therevised model was an improvement over the initial model, 2difference(1, N 262) 23.29, p .01.The revised model was estimated on the validation sample, andthe fit indexes (see Table 2) suggested that this model adequatelyfit the data. We performed a multiple group analysis to determineif the path values in the modified model predicting career aspiration would generalize to other samples in the population. Thechi-square difference between the constrained and nonconstrainedmodels resulted in a nonsignificant chi-square value, 2(11, N 364) 8.60, p .05, indicating that the values of the paths werenot significantly different across the two groups. Thus, the revisedmodel and the path coefficients were supported with the validationsample. Table 3 presents the results of the multiple group comparisons for the model predicting career aspiration.Again, both of the samples were combined, and a path analysisof the revised model was performed using the full sample. SeeTable 2 for a summary of the fit indexes. The squared multiplecorrelation coefficient for the model of career aspiration indicatedthat 13% of the variance in career aspiration was accounted for byfeminist attitudes, nontraditional career self-efficacy, nontraditional career interests, parental support, and perception of futurebarriers. See Figure 4 for the revised model predicting MexicanAmerican girls’ career aspiration.There were no significant paths between the background contextual variables of acculturation level, feminist attitudes, mothers’educational level, mothers’ occupational traditionality, and nontraditional career self-efficacy. Nontraditional career self-efficacypredicted nontraditional career interests in all models; however,nontraditional career interests did not predict any of the threecriterion variables of career choice prestige, career choice traditionality, or career aspiration. Acculturation, nontraditional careerself-efficacy, parental support, and perceived barriers had significant effects on career choice prestige. Acculturation level andfeminist attitudes had a significant positive effect, and nontraditional career self-efficacy had a significant negative effect, onchoice of traditional careers, but parental support and perceivedbarriers had no significant effects. Finally, higher parental supportand higher levels of feminist attitudes were predictive of higherlevels of career aspiration. Nontraditional career self-efficacy andperceived barriers did not significantly predict Mexican Americanwomen’s career aspirations.Descriptive StatisticsA wide range of careers, representing both traditional and nontraditional occupational fields, were identified as potential careersfor this sample. The top two occupations endorsed by these womenwere traditionally female occupations (teacher 16% andnurse 11.3%). Eleven percent intended to be doctors, and over6% chose physical therapy as their future occupation. A total of 76occupations were reported. (Contact Lisa Y. Flores for a completelist.)DiscussionThis study was the first to test the validity of SCCT (Lent et al.,1994) in explaining the career-related goals of Mexican Americanadolescent women. Consistent with SCCT, nontraditional careerself-efficacy predicted nontraditional career interests. In addition,nontraditional career self-efficacy had a positive effect on careerchoice prestige and a negative effect on career choice traditionality. As hypothesized by Lent et al., the proximal contextual variables of parental support and perceived future occupational barriers directly predicted career choice prestige, and parental supportwas predictive of career aspiration.Figure 3. Respecified model predicting Mexican American adolescent women’s career choice traditionality.*p .05.22 FLORES AND O’BRIENHowever, several SCCT (Lent et al., 1994) propositions werenot supported by data from this sample of Mexican Americanwomen. Specifically, relations did not emerge between the background contextual variables (i.e., acculturation level, feminist attitudes, mothers’ educational level, and mothers’ occupationaltraditionality) and nontraditional career self-efficacy. Interestingly,nontraditional career interests did not exert an influence on any ofthe outcome variables tested in this study. Moreover, the proximalcontextual variables did not influence career traditionality, andnontraditional career self-efficacy did not predict career aspiration.Finally, although not posited by SCCT, adding paths fromacculturation level and feminist attitudes to career choice prestigeand career choice traditionality were suggested based on the dataand increased the amount of variance explained in each model.Also, the addition of the path from feminist attitudes to careeraspiration improved the model explaining Mexican American adolescent women’s career aspirations.Explication of potential reasons why several SCCT (Lent et al.,1994) propositions were not replicated in this sample of MexicanAmerican women seems warranted. First, support for the SCCThypotheses related to the formation of self-efficacy beliefs was notdemonstrated by our models. Specifically, SCCT hypothesizedthat background contextual variables would have an indirect effecton nontraditional career self-efficacy through learning activities.Although learning opportunities were not measured in this study,contextual factors would be expected to exert an influence oncareer self-efficacy, assuming their relationship to learning opportunities. However, acculturation level, feminist attitudes, mothers’educational attainment, and mothers’ career traditionality did notpredict nontraditional career self-efficacy. These findings suggested that other contextual variables, not assessed in the presentstudy, may account for the variance in Mexican American women’s nontraditional career self-efficacy. Researchers might investigate the contributions of related academic and social experiences,persuasion, and familial expectations in future models to accountfor the role of learning experiences in the development of MexicanAmerican women’s nontraditional career self-efficacy.With regard to acculturation and nontraditional self-efficacy,previous research demonstrated a relation between these variableswith another racial/ethnic minority group (Tang et al., 1999). Thenonsignificant relation with this sample may be due to definingacculturation level along a single continuum and the distribution ofthe sample, which was overwhelmingly bicultural (n 237).Future studies should conduct multisample analyses on the basis ofacculturation level to determine if differences are present amongnonacculturated, bicultural, and highly acculturated individuals.Feminist attitudes also were not related to nontraditional careerself-efficacy, a finding that has been consistently reported insamples of predominantly White women (O’Brien, 1996; O’Brien& Fassinger, 1993). It is possible that the lack of variability inscores on the measure assessing feminist values made detecting arelation with career self-efficacy difficult. Alternatively, feministbeliefs may not be salient for this sample of Mexican Americanwomen, perhaps demonstrated by mean scores in the mid-range onthis instrument. At times, the feminist movement has been criticized for focusing on the needs and values of White women(Espin, 1994). It is possible that moderate beliefs about feminismcombined with little variability in scores on this measure may havecontributed to the lack of predictive validity of this variable withregard to confidence in pursuing nontraditional occupations.In addition to acculturation and feminist attitudes not predictingnontraditional career self-efficacy, mothers’ educational level andmothers’ career traditionality did not influence confidence in pursuing nontraditional occupations. There may be other factors in themother–daughter relationship that influence the strength of therelation to nontraditional career self-efficacy. Indeed, O’Brien etal. (1996) found that high school girls’ relationships with theirmothers often included conflictual feelings. These feelings couldaffect mothers’ influence on their daughters’ career decision making. Future research studies should assess the quality of mother–Figure 4. Respecified model predicting Mexican American adolescent women’s career aspirations. *p .05.MEXICAN AMERICAN WOMEN 23daughter relationships to ascertain the predictive ability of mothers’ influence on daughters’ career self-efficacy. Alternatively,these girls may have looked to their fathers for career role modeling, a finding reported by O’Brien et al. (2000). Seeking otherfamily members for career role modeling may be common amongMexican American girls, especially because Mexican Americanwomen tend to be employed in traditional career fields. Indeed,over a third of this sample reported that their mothers werehomemakers. Thus, we suggest that future studies also assess theinfluence of additional role models beyond mothers, includingfathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, siblings, and peers.An additional SCCT (Lent et al., 1994) proposition that was notsupported was the hypothesized relation between nontraditionalcareer self-efficacy and career aspiration. Although nontraditionalcareer self-efficacy appears to exert an influence on the types ofcareers Mexican American adolescent women choose, this construct did not contribute to their aspiration or goals within a givencareer. Programs that expose Mexican American women to nontraditional careers and provide opportunities for increased selfefficacy in performing tasks associated with nontraditional occupations could enhance the relation between self-efficacy andaspiration and perhaps increase the number of Mexican Americanadolescent women who develop interests in and choose nontraditional, prestigious careers (see O’Brien, Dukstein, Jackson, Tomlinson, & Kamatuka, 1999, for an example of a career intervention). Moreover, O’Brien and her colleagues suggested thateducational and career planning occur far in advance of graduationfrom high school. Indeed, prior research recommended the implementation and evaluation of career-oriented workshops, classes, orsummer programs with middle school and high school studentswho are at risk for educational and vocational underachievement(O’Brien et al., 1999; O’Brien et al., 2000). Fouad (1995) noted theneed for such interventions to focus specifically on Hispanicstudents. Programs that demystify the college experience, improvedecision-making skills, and assist participants in learning aboutthemselves, colleges/universities, and careers could enhance careerself-efficacy.Also, the SCCT (Lent et al., 1994) proposition that careerinterests influence career goals was not supported by our data; asimilar finding was reported with Asian American college students(Tang et al., 1999). For this sample of Mexican American women,factors other than interests, such as confidence in their abilities tocarry out the duties of the career, had a stronger influence on careergoals. Alternatively, it is possible that Mexican American adolescent women may not have the luxury of choosing a career based ontheir interests. If this finding is replicated in other samples, werecommend that Lent et al. consider revising their proposition toreflect the lack of salience of interests in predicting the careerpaths of women of color. Moreover, psychologists might reconsider the use of a traditional approach to career counseling withMexican American women, as other factors beyond matchinginterests and careers may be stronger determinants to their careerdecisions. Counselors also need to assess if career choices areconsonant with interests, and if not, they should explore theobstacles that may be preventing them from pursuing careers inwhich they have interests.Finally, modifications to the model suggested that acculturationlevel significantly influenced the selection of nontraditional,highly prestigious careers, and feminist attitudes was a significantpredictor of career traditionality and career aspiration. Womenwho were more oriented toward the Anglo culture tended tochoose less prestigious and more traditional careers. Also, womenwith higher levels of feminist attitudes were more likely to choosetraditional careers and have higher career aspiration. These relations were contrary to prior research that suggested that nontraditional gender role attitudes were positively related to MexicanAmerican women’s educational and career choices (McWhirter etal., 1998; Valenzuela, 1993; Vasquez-Nuttal et al., 1987). Onepossible explanation for these findings is that acculturated womenmay be aware of the sociopolitical atmosphere for women inworkplaces that are dominated by men and thus may choose toavoid those careers. Results also indicated that women who ascribed to feminist beliefs were more likely to be goal orientedwithin their chosen career. Indeed, O’Brien et al. (2000) reportedthis same phenomenon among a sample of White college womenand suggested that women may choose nontraditional, less prestigious careers to balance personal and work demands, yet maydesire to achieve within their career. As such, it is reasonable toexpect that these adolescents may perceive more opportunities foradvancement in traditional careers for women.Several of Lent et al.’s (1994) propositions were supported byour data. First, nontraditional career self-efficacy was found tohave a direct influence on Mexican American women’s nontraditional career interests, career prestige, and career traditionality. Asnontraditional career self-efficacy increased, nontraditional careerinterests also increased. Furthermore, higher levels of nontraditional career self-efficacy were related to the selection of nontraditional and prestigious careers. These findings support the SCCTpropositions that people develop interests in areas in which theyhave a strong sense of agency, and they select careers in whichthey feel confident about their ability to complete the tasks necessary for the career.Second, results of the present study provided empirical supportfor Lent et al.’s (1994) proposition that the presence of support andfew perceived barriers has a positive effect on career goals. Mexican American adolescent women who perceived support fromtheir parents for their career pursuits and who anticipated fewerbarriers chose prestigious careers, and women who perceived theirparents to be supportive of their career goals had stronger levels ofcareer aspiration. This finding contradicts an earlier study thatfound that perceptions of barriers were not predictive of the careerexpectations of Mexican American girls (McWhirter et al., 1998)and replicates those studies that found that emotional support fromthe family was predictive of educational plans and career expectations (Gandara, 1982; Hernandez et al., 1994; Keith & Lichtman,1994; Ramos & Sanchez, 1995; Vasquez, 1982; Wycoff, 1996).These findings suggest that Mexican American adolescentwomen may choose highly prestigious careers on the basis of theapproval of others or their family obligations. Indeed, with theexception of feminist attitudes, parental support contributed moreto the prediction of Mexican American women’s selection ofprestigious careers than any other variable assessed in this study.These findings are important given the emphasis placed on thefamily unit in the Mexican American culture and are consistentwith vocational decision-making behaviors among Asian Americans, a group who similarly place a high value on family (Leong& Gim, 1995; Leong & Serafica, 1995). Mexican Americanwomen from traditional families may not have the support to24 FLORES AND O’BRIENpursue nontraditional educational and vocational aspirations ifthey conflict with cultural norms and family expectations. Counselors should address these factors when working with MexicanAmerican women.These findings highlight the salience of addressing culturaland familial expectations when providing career counseling toMexican American women. Furthermore, counseling psychologists should be encouraged to develop innovative career intervention programs for Mexican American adolescents thatinvolve parents and other family members. Parental involvement in vocational interventions could facilitate the lines ofcommunication between children and their parents about careerdevelopment and job requirements, which could assist studentsin planning for their future. Moreover, parents and childrencould clarify the expectations and dreams that each holds regarding educational and career attainment. Researching theeffectiveness of these programs in students’ educational andcareer planning is strongly recommended.The importance of family also was reflected in the educationalgoals of these young women. Most of the participants who plannedto continue their education beyond high school indicated that theywould enroll in the local 2-year community college or 4-year stateuniversity. Indeed, students reported that the proximity of thecollege/university to home was one of the most important factorsin choosing a college/university. Remaining geographically closeto their families while attending college seems to be a salientconsideration in the educational planning of Mexican Americanwomen. It is unknown, however, whether these young womenchoose to stay close to home because of familial expectations orpersonal preferences. It is also unclear whether this choice provides needed support to pursue their educational and career aspirations or if their future opportunities are limited by this decision.Research is needed to understand how attending college in thesame hometown facilitates or hinders attrition and graduation ratesas well as the career orientation of Mexican American women.Future researchers should also consider incorporating additionalvariables not included in the SCCT (Lent et al., 1994) model ofcareer choice given that the hypothesized models only accountedfor 8%, 11%, and 13% of the variance in the prediction of prestige,traditionality, and career aspiration, respectively. Because theproximal contextual variable of support contributed to MexicanAmerican women’s career choice prestige and career aspirations,consideration of other contextual variables that may contribute totheir career goals is warranted. Indeed, analyses revealed that thebackground contextual variables of acculturation level and feminist attitudes have a direct influence on the prestige level andtraditionality of Mexican American women’s career choices thatare not represented in Lent et al.’s proposed model. Furthermore,environmental factors related to the school (i.e., vocational guidance programs in the school) are not included in Lent et al.’s modelbut should be investigated.The reliability estimates for the scales used to assess feministattitudes and career aspiration were relatively low, and thus, thefindings related to these constructs should be interpreted withcaution. For example, it is possible that significant path coefficients may emerge in the career aspiration model with a morereliable scale. Given the paucity of research with Mexican Americans, future studies should attempt to improve on the psychometric properties of the measures used in this study and to developnew instruments for use in research with this population. Additional testing of the revised model with several samples of Mexican American women is necessary to determine if these resultscan be generalized. Research is also needed to evaluate the validityof Lent et al.’s (1994) model with Mexican American boys andmen.As noted earlier, only a modest amount of variance in thecriterion variables was accounted for by the social cognitive andcontextual variables assessed in this study. Additional variablesthat may contribute to career goals should be considered in futurestudies with Mexican American women. For example, researchershave suggested that socioeconomic status and student ability maybe important variables to assess among Mexican Americans andfemale participants (e.g., Fassinger, 1990; Lauver & Jones, 1991;McWhirter et al., 1998). Moreover, given that teen pregnancy andmarriage occur with some frequency in this population, assessingpregnancy and marriage rates at this age could provide data regarding how these events affect the educational and career aspirations of young women. Relatedly, although this study includedan assessment of several environmental influences on women’scareer development, the focus was on individual variables. Additional research is needed to investigate the ways in which thesocial environment limits the educational and occupational opportunities of Mexican American women.Finally, a longitudinal study that assesses the career orientationof Mexican American women at periodic intervals following highschool graduation is recommended. Such a study would provideinformation regarding the factors that affect the vocational development of Mexican American women over the course of theirlives. A longitudinal study would also provide useful informationregarding the factors that contribute to college graduation amongMexican American women. Future studies could investigate thebarriers encountered by students who do not complete college andexplore the characteristics shared by those who successfully complete college. Counseling psychologists could then develop empirically based interventions to optimize success in college.In conclusion, the results of this study advanced knowledgeregarding the explanatory power and limitations of SCCT (Lent etal., 1994) in describing the career development of Mexican American adolescent women. 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