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Family planning in the U.S. military: The gendered experiences of servicewomen

APA Citation:

Erwin, S. K. (2022). Family planning in the U.S. military: The gendered experiences of servicewomen. Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health, 8(1), 102-109. https://doi.org/10.3138/jmvfh-2021-0015

Abstract Created by REACH:

12 Servicewomen participated in semi-structured interviews to explore their family planning experiences as women with military careers. Within family planning, marriage and pregnancy/ parenthood emerged as primary areas where Servicewomen have unique experiences, especially as single parents. Servicewomen also had varying perspectives on spouse support and preferences for dual-military versus military-civilian marriages. They also discussed challenges associated with balancing military obligations with pregnancy and parenthood.



Branch of Service:

Air Force
Marine Corps
Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Active duty service member


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


Qualitative Study
Secondary Analysis


Erwin, Stephanie K.


LAY SUMMARY Balancing family and work is always challenging for working women; however, military service presents especially nuanced and unique challenges to women serving in the U.S. military. Family planning, and in particular marriage and children, have distinct impacts on servicewomen’s professional careers. Their chosen professions often intersect and detract from their family planning choices. Within a larger study of gendered experiences, women from all four branches of the U.S. military, representing a variety of familial statuses and occupations, noted the complex and challenging intersections of family and work they encountered over the course of their military careers. As in other professions, military women bear disproportionate familial burdens compared with their male counterparts, and challenges pertaining to marriage and children regularly affect their professional careers. However, the military presents heightened professional demands on family planning, including marital status, marital partners’ professions, pregnancy, maternity, and parenthood. These additional challenges women in the military face regarding family planning often run counter to organizational efforts to encourage women’s participation, promotion, and retention in the military.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

University of Toronto Press

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

U.S. Air Command and Staff College, SE


children, family planning, gender, marriage, military, U.S., women

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REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  April 2022

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