Gender disparities in active duty Air Force parents’ childcare access: Pre-pandemic costs, utilization, and career impacts
King, E. L., Myint, H., Gardner, T. R., Mitchell, M. R., & Beitz, K. A. (2022). Gender disparities in active duty Air Force parents' childcare access: Pre-pandemic costs, utilization, and career impacts. Armed Forces & Society. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1177/0095327X221094646
Abstract Created by REACH:
Childcare is a recognized challenge for many military parents with implications for family readiness and, in turn, mission readiness. Consequently, this study examined gender differences in childcare (i.e., access, cost, use, and consequences for military retention) across 2 independent samples of active-duty Air Force parents in 2017 (n = 19,908; Air Force Community Feedback Tool) and 2020 (n = 26,024; Air Force Childcare Survey). Generally, higher percentages of women Airmen reported challenges in accessing and affording childcare across all ranks than men Airmen across these two samples.
Branch of Service:
Active duty service member
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)
Cross sectional study
King, Erika L., Myint, Hla, Gardner, Tawney R., Mitchell, Morgan R., Beitz, Kristin A.
Past reports indicate that enduring Department of Defense (DoD) childcare shortfalls may disproportionately affect women, but details regarding gender effects are unknown. This exploratory study sought to uncover the military childcare system’s pre-pandemic state by analyzing two Air Force (AF) survey datasets—the 2017 AF Community Feedback Tool and 2020 AF Childcare Survey—to examine gender gaps in active duty AF parents’ childcare access, cost and utilization, and perceptions of childcare impacts on career progression and retention. Results reveal that women—particularly those in the lowest ranks with less time on station—report more difficulties accessing childcare than male counterparts. Furthermore, fathers paid nothing for childcare and relied on spouses for childcare at higher rates, while mothers paid for care, relied on DoD childcare programs, were on DoD waitlists, reported childcare-related career impacts, and reported childcare affected their retention decisions at higher rates. Policy recommendations to improve childcare across the force are discussed.
The Army-University of Kentucky Master of Social Work Program, ELK
The Army-University of Kentucky Master of Social Work Program, HM
The Army-University of Kentucky Master of Social Work Program, TRG
The Army-University of Kentucky Master of Social Work Program, MRM
The Army-University of Kentucky Master of Social Work Program, KAB
childcare, gender differences, covid-19
REACH Publication Type: