Institutional structures of professional career paths often support breadwinner–homemaker families, with a stay at home wife available full time to support the professional (and children), so the professional can devote complete energy and time to developing a career. This research examines how two partners in the same narrowly structured, fast track occupational culture such as those occurring for dual military officer couples shape how women and men negotiate decision making and life events. Data from interviews with 23 dual U.S. Navy officer couples build upon Becker and Moen’s (1999) scaling back notions. With both spouses in these careers, placing limits on work is extremely difficult due to fast track cultures that demand higher status choices and structures that formally do not reliably consider collocations. Trading off occurs, but with distress due to the unique demands on two partners in the fast track culture, which means career death for some. Two partners in fast track careers may not yet have given up on two careers as many peers may have, but they lose a great deal, including time together and their desired number of children. But they ultimately posit individual choice rather than focusing on structural change. The pressured family life resulting is likely similar to that for partners in other narrowly structured, fast track cultures such as in law firms and academia.
We thank Melissa Milkie, David R. Segal, and Judith Rosenstein for insightful, constructive comments on a previous draft of this chapter. We are grateful to the anonymous reviewers and the editor for their thoughtful comments on our submitted version.
Smith, D.G. and Segal, M.W. (2013), "On the fast track: Dual military couples navigating institutional structures This research was sponsored by the Navy Office of Women’s Policy (N134W). The views of the authors are their own and do not purport to reflect the position of the United States Naval Academy, the Department of the Navy, or the Department of Defense.
This research was sponsored by the Navy Office of Women’s Policy (N134W). The views of the authors are their own and do not purport to reflect the position of the United States Naval Academy, the Department of the Navy, or the Department of Defense.
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