An individual's decision to enter into a career is based on several factors, such as his or her interests, personality, family, abilities, and values. This article considers altruism as a possible factor relating to the choice of a career in "helping" professions. The differences between altruism levels of students in relation to program choice and sex are examined, using both an altruism scale, which measures intention to help others in certain situations, and an interview format. Finally, qualitative results are presented to further describe possible altruistic differences between men and women. Overall, the results suggest there were no differences in self-reported altruism either between five helping programs (speech pathology, education, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and social work) or between sexes as measured by the altruism scale. However, from the interviews, men reported different altruistic reasons for entering helping professions that focused more on "society," whereas women focused more on the "individual" person. These sex differences will be discussed in light of future student recruitment. This research provides more descriptive information on altruistic motives for career choice in the helping professions than previously available.
Journal of Allied Health Vol. 37, Issue 1, p. 22-29