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The Surprising Career Where Women Are More Satisfied Than Men

Career Advice |

We don’t have to tell you how challenging it can be for women in the workplace. From negotiating equal pay to navigating stereotypes, study after study shows how women often struggle to feel fully satisfied on the job.

But a new report proves there is at least one field in which we can consistently report happiness: the military.

The findings, published in the American Sociological Review the same week the Pentagon announced it would lift its military ban on women in combat, show that the military’s employment opportunities for women are “superior to those in civilian society,” according to the study’s lead author Jennifer Hickes Lundquist.

In her study of 30,000 active-duty military men and women, Lundquist found that women consistently reported higher job satisfaction in the military than their male counterparts of the same ethnicity—the exact opposite of what is often reported in the private sector, The Washington Post points out. While acknowledging the struggles women often face in the military, like sexual assault and harassment, Lundquist attributes this satisfaction to the fact that in the military, rank is seen as more important than class or gender. “For women, pay and job benefits are more equal in the military than in civilian labor,” she writes.

According to the findings, African-American women in the military were most satisfied with their jobs, followed by African-American men, Latinos and white women. Caucasian men, meanwhile, came in as least satisfied.

While this is all well and good, women still only make up 15 percent of military personnel, Lundquist reports, “and because gender segregation in the military is lessened, women are not the majority in any military occupation.”

Still, other research has found that men and women are equally promoted in the military, thereby erasing the gender gap that so many of us know all too well exists in other industries.

Are you surprised by the results of this study? Tell us in the comments!

Photo courtesy of Women of the Military

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So, I've been in the Navy for 5 years now and the results of this study are both fascinating... and more than a little surprising to me! It has been my experience that enlisted men and women are in equal parts dissatisfied/satisfied with their military service. Though I suppose, that the equal advancement of men and women within the military plays a role in increased job satisfaction for the women. On the flipside, men often do not like to be told what to do by the fairer sex...especially the 'macho' men in the military. I think in the end, job satisfaction depends on what someone does in the military (and there are tons of different careers to be found in each branch). Like me for instance, I'm satisfied with my job now...but I also am excited thinking about getting out of the Navy in 4 years. I'm ready for the opportunities that can be found for women outside of the military!


Super fascinating. We definitely need to find a few women to share there experience in the military on Levo!


I really found these results surprising. (Somewhat obviously since I wrote about it!) Interested to see if the findings would change at all given the newly lifted ban on women in combat.

Jennifer Merritt

Jenn is a writer and editor based in New York. Follow her on Twitter: @jennifermerritt