American Sociological Association

Soldiers to Scientists: Military Service, Gender, and STEM Degree Earning

The authors use 2014–2018 data from the American Community Survey to answer two questions: To what extent is military service associated with higher rates of earning a bachelor’s degree in a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field (vs. a non-STEM field)? To what extent is this relationship gendered? The findings suggest that military service is associated with higher odds of completing a STEM degree and that this association is particularly strong for female veterans. Comparison across multiple STEM definitions suggests that military service does not simply channel women into traditionally female-dominated STEM fields. Instead, the findings show the biggest boost for women earning degrees in traditionally male-dominated STEM fields. The authors situate these findings in light of extant empirical and theoretical research on gender gaps in STEM and discuss implications for policy and research.


Christina Steid, Regina Werum, Sela Harcey, Jacob Absalon, and Alice MillerMacPhee



Starting Page


Ending Page