Center for Regional Analysis Examines Army Service’s Effects on Women

Posted: December 12, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Jocelyn Rappaport

Mason’s Center for Regional Analysis in the School of Public Policy (SPP) has conducted a pilot survey of female Army soldiers and veterans to assess the impact their service has had on their economic well-being.

The study, funded by a grant from the U.S. Army Women’s Foundation (USAWF), represents groundbreaking research on the impact of the Army on the educational achievements, employment advancements and economic success of generations of Army women.

“What has been lacking is an understanding of how Army service has affected women economically in their post-military careers,” says Lisa Fowler, SPP professor and researcher with the Center for Regional Analysis.

Among the findings were:

  • Those who joined in the 1950s, ’60s and early ’70s often made a career of Army service. Almost 62 percent served 20 years or more.

  • Women advanced their education while in the Army or after leaving.

  • Women reported a higher personal income (one-third reporting personal incomes of $60,000 or more) than nonmilitary women nationally.

In addition, survey results suggest that Army service had an even greater influence on educational and employment achievements of African American women.

The survey was administered from April 1 through May 31, 2006. Surveys were sent to 1,450 women, including Army veterans and women currently serving. A total of 709 responses were received either online or via mail.

Fowler notes that because the survey sampling was from the USAWF membership list, results should not be generalized to reflect the broader U.S. Army population. In addition, some subgroup analyses were done with small sample sizes, which could influence interpretations of the analyses.

The study was conducted as a way to help tell the U.S. Army women’s story. In general, women responded that army service was a major influence on their educational advancement and their post-Army civilian careers. Respondents to the survey indicated that they were more economically successful than women nationally and stated that the Army was a primary reason for their achievements.

“While the women stated many benefits, they did also note the sacrifices made in order to serve,” says Fowler.

Center for Regional Analysis research reports and analysis (including the entire survey referenced above) can be found at www.cra-gmu.org.

This article originally appeared in SPP Currents in a slightly different format.

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