Gender and the Military Profession: Early Career Influences, Attitudes, and Intentions


This research explores issues relating to gender in the military. It focuses on understanding how career attitudes and intentions develop and are influenced during the early stages of women and men’s socialization at the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA).


As increasing numbers of women are recruited into the U.S. Navy, retention of women (especially in combat occupational specialties) lags behind men. Data indicate that women and men leave the Navy because of impact on their family. Lack of career persistence for women in nontraditional professions such as science, technology, engineering and math professions has also been attributed to social psychological factors including self-efficacy, stereotype threat, and bias. We build on this research to examine the military and service academies' socialization of women into a traditionally male profession through role model influence. Surveys were collected from students at the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) on their work-family expectations. Results show a gendered difference in career intentions and influences by male and female non-USNA peers, but not from their families or officers. Expected work-family conflict, gender ideology, and family formation intentions were employed to explore relationships between work and family expectations.

Full Reference

Gender and the Military Profession. CAPT David G. Smith, Judith E. Rosenstein. Armed Forces & Society. Vol 43, Issue 2, pp. 260 - 279.