I am working with students on the 500 Families study, which surveyed middle-class, dual-career couples on work-family balance. One paper from this study, by Ariel Kalil, Judith Levine, and Kathleen Ziol-Guest, looked at what might make teen boys and girls want to have jobs like their mothers' and fathers' jobs. How much the jobs paid, and how much the parents talked about their work with their kids were not significant factors in whether teens wanted jobs like their parents'. And boys and girls were not very different from one another in their response to their parents, though girls were somewhat more likely to want a job like mom's. For both boys and girls, dad's job seemed more attractive.
Teens, like everyone else, are more attracted to jobs with complex work and freedom to do it. Quite a few of the mothers and fathers in the study had work like that. The surprising finding was this:
When fathers hold jobs that are substantively complex and when they report having higher levels of autonomy at work, adolescents express a greater interest in having a job like their fathers’. Interestingly, these relationships do not apply to interest in having a job like their mothers’.