Gender and the Propensity to Enlist in the U.S. Military
Media attention to women’s military participation is likely to increase the degree to which girls and young women see the services as offering viable jobs and careers for them. The military traditionally has been a male institution, though women historically have served in many countries when they were needed. Women are permitted in over 90 percent of all active-duty job categories in each of the services. “Enlistment propensity” or “military propensity” includes individuals’ interests and desires, as well as their plans and expectations, regarding military service. For most years, more men think it likely that they will serve than want to serve. In a sense, this difference may reflect a process of economic conscription where men expect to serve because of poor civilian employment prospects. Among young women, the differences across time are small and generally in the opposite direction.