Women Veterans in Transition Research Project

During the last several years as women have increasingly joined the military ranks and deployed to war zones, BPW Foundation wanted to know what the impact would be on them, their families and communities, especially when they come home.  Would the workplace support these new veterans? Would their unique skills be recognized as transferable? Are there dedicated services for them?

BPW Foundation conducted preliminary research and found that women veterans relatively receive less support upon return from service and generally have a difficult transition.  Coupled with the issues of pay equity, work-life balance and gender discrimination the plague most women, it was apparent these returning military sisters needed assistance as they returned to their careers, lives and families. The next step was to survey women veterans themselves.  In the absence of a publicly available database of women veterans, BPW Foundation researchers and supporting partners created a database.  The 2007 online survey, Women Veterans in Transition, was completed by over 1,600 women. Respondents had the opportunity to provide comments and the option to participate in more in-depth research such as focus groups and interviews.  The results of this pilot study has sparked public discussion about the creation of programs and services that work for women veterans and their employers throughout the entire transition process.  Because of BPW Foundation’s role as a neutral convener, we have been particularly interested in sharing these results with decision makers, employers, non profits and government agencies.

Publications based on the research:

Our launch report, available on this page, is the initial phase of the pilot study that includes deeper analysis of the data resulting from a survey of women veterans administered during the summer of 2007. It will also reflect data from focus groups and interviews that emerge from this analysis, with women veterans, employers, veteran service organizations and government agencies. BPW Foundation will also collaborate with other agencies to encourage the expansion of research about the career transition experiences of female and male veterans. An outgrowth of this research was our 2009 “Dear Jane” letter writing campaign.  Through this effort, BPW Foundation connected women veterans with deployed military women readying for separation from the service. Through their letters, women veterans shared with women soldiers what worked and what didn’t in their transition efforts.

Launch Report

Understanding the Complexity of Women Veterans’ Career Transitions:

An initial look at the survey results indicates that the transition from the military into the civilian workforce is a multi-dimensional process. Policy makers may need to examine a number of factors in order to craft programs and services that more fully support women veterans that are moving into the civilian workforce. In addition, the implications relate not only to the types of resources needed during transition but the timing and duration of those resources.

It is important to note that this survey offers a first composite picture of transition into the workplace for the woman veteran. Additionally significant is the sample and methodology used, in the absence of a comprehensive database of women veterans available to the public.