Study of factors affecting the retention decisions of sea-going Female Naval Aviators and Naval Flight Officers
Keegan, Traci A.
Eitelberg, Mark J.
Thomas, Gail F.
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This thesis seeks to discover the factors that are affecting the career decisions of female aviators and naval fight officers (NFOs) in sea-going aviation communities. Focused interviews were conducted with 21 female aviators/ NFOs from various sea-going aviation communities. Analysis of the transcripts revealed 14 general themes. These themes covered topics, including the influence family members had on the interviewees' decision to join the military, the interviewees' commitment to serve their country, the lack of female role models in aviation, the gender discrimination the interviewees faced throughout their careers, and the interviewees' plans to leave the Navy after their initial obligation. The most surprising finding of the study was that 19 of 21 women interviewed said they planned to leave the Navy and that there was nothing the Navy could do to make them stay. Other findings indicated that many female naval aviators/NFOs struggle with the decision of whether to continue a career in naval aviation or resign due to their desire to have a husband and children, and female naval aviators/NFOs have no positive female role models. This thesis concludes with recommended courses of action and areas for further research in order to help personnel officials better understand the choices female officers are forced to make concerning their commitment to the Navy and to increase the retention rate of future female aviators/NFOs.
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