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Gender differences in marital and military predictors of service member career satisfaction

APA Citation:

Street, T., Lewin, A., Woodall, K., Cruz-Cano, R., Thoma, M., & Stander, V. A. (2022). Gender differences in marital and military predictors of service member career satisfaction. Family Relations, 71(4), 1515-1537. https://doi.org/10.1111/fare.12697

Abstract Created by REACH:

Guided by the ABC-X model of family stress, this study examined how both family and military factors play a role in the career satisfaction of Service members. 9,325 Service members and their spouses reported on a variety of military and family stressors (e.g., deployment, spouse employment, spousal and Service member mental health), as well as work-family conflict, to understand how they affected Service members’ military satisfaction. Additionally, gender and support resources (i.e., social support and marital quality) were hypothesized to moderate the associations between these predictors (i.e., military and family stressors and work-family conflict) and military satisfaction. All models accounted for Service members’ demographics (e.g., age, education, branch of service, household income). Overall, both family and military factors emerged as salient predictors of career satisfaction, though a few notable differences emerged between men and women Service members.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Coast Guard
Marine Corps
Air Force
Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Spouse of service member or veteran
Active duty service member
Guard/Reserve member


Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Quantitative Study


Street, Towanda, Lewin, Amy, Woodall, Kelly, Cruz-Cano, Raul, Thoma, Marie, Stander, Valerie A.


Background U.S. servicewomen may face unique military experiences unlike those of servicemen, and stressors can affect their satisfaction with the military. Understanding factors influencing satisfaction among the increasing number of U.S. servicewomen in the U.S. military is important for retention. Methods Using family stress theory, data from service members and their spouses (N = 9325) enrolled in the Millennium Cohort Family Study were analyzed using cross-sectional linear regression to evaluate the relationship between military and family stressors and service members' military satisfaction, and how these relationships differ by gender. Results Service members with more deployment experience and better mental health were more satisfied with the military, while spouse employment outside the home and work–family conflict were associated with less satisfaction. Gender, marital quality, and social support moderated the relationships between stressors and military satisfaction, suggesting they may impact men and women differently. Overall, however, work–family conflict was associated with decrements in the career satisfaction of both men and women. Conclusion This study increases our understanding of the influence military and family stressors have on service members' satisfaction with the military. It also reveals gender differences in military satisfaction and recommends strategies to address the needs of diverse military families.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

Wiley Online

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

University of Maryland, TS
University of Maryland, AL
Leidos Inc, San Diego, CA, and the Naval Health Research Center, KW
University of Maryland, RCC
University of Maryland, MT
Naval Health Research Center, VAS


career satisfaction, gender differences, social support, work-family conflict

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary


Naval Health Research Center; Department of Defense; Bureau of Medicine and Surgery; U.S. Navy; The Millennium Cohort Study is funded through the Military Operational Medicine Research Program, Defense Health Program, and Veterans Affairs

REACH Newsletter:

  August 2022

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