Confronting Gender Discrepancies in Teenage Pregnancy

Date of Award


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Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


Though teenage pregnancy in the United States is declining, it is still a dilemma affecting young men and women, with the highest rates in Latinx and low SES communities. Having a child while in your teenage years results in higher chances of lower educational attainment, lower paying jobs, single parent families, living in lower-income communities, and having lower-quality healthcare. Previous research on teenage pregnancy shows a gap in literature by hyper focusing on the discussion of women’s roles before and after pregnancy, and not males. As a result of putting the focus of teenage pregnancy and pregnancy prevention on women, this eliminates the responsibility and ownership of men and produces an absence of the father’s roles. The importance of this research is to focus on the challenges men face during pregnancy and how not taking them into account creates a gender divide. The research conducted focuses on four variables: gender, race, socioeconomic status, and pregnancy prevention. In the end uncovering three new variables, Gender Roles, Associations of Male and Female Bodies, and Male Tragedy. Through interviews with those of all socioeconomic and racial backgrounds, this study’s purpose is to shed light on why there is an emphasis on women's roles in pregnancy and prevention discourse, as opposed to the lack of male’s, and how the absence of males in these conversations affects the lives of both men and women. By using Facebook and Instagram as platforms to reach out to 11 participants, in-person interviews and online questions were then conducted. The participants consisted of 6 women and 5 men ages 20 to 25, who do and do not have children. The interview questions touched on participant experiences with pregnancy and their own families, what their healthcare providers discuss and focus on, their overall exposure and knowledge of contraceptives, and their opinions and perceptions of teenage pregnancy. Findings from this research bring to light a tragedy of gender role bifurcation within pregnancy. Men assume the responsibility of the financial burden while a woman's duty is to take a care of the child because she was the one to give birth. This study’s findings strongly suggest that this is due to societal gender roles as well as the physicalities of women's pregnancy excluding men from the conversation. Emerging from the finis a striking problem that men are not being educated the same as women due to the gender roles placed on them in as young as their adolescent years. Thus bringing to light a need for more resources and comprehensive sex and pregnancy education geared towards men and women equally. This study demonstrates that the structures and beliefs of our society are limited and not set up properly to support an egalitarian lifestyle whilst having a child. Those of lower socioeconomic status, especially teenage males with limited financial opportunities, struggle more than people with higher socioeconomic status because there are structural and societal problems within our world that confine them into making decisions and sacrifices. These decisions come in the form of following traditional gender roles, not attending college because fathers have to take on more than one job to support their families, and not being able to afford college and raising a child simultaneously. These consequences then have larger repercussions in the future such as not finishing high school or college and then not being able to earn a high paying degree, affecting both the parents and children. In the end teen pregnancy not only takes a social toll on families, but an economic one as well.


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