Pregnant on campus: the stigma of undergraduate pregnancy
Gendered social stigmas including those surrounding pregnancy, abortion, and adoption are pervasive, as it is estimated that a majority of women will experience one or more throughout their life course. Seeking to explore the social norms and mechanisms surrounding pregnancy and pregnancy-related choices in the demographic of elite private university students, the present study investigated how undergraduate students perceive pregnancy amongst their fellow unmarried undergraduate peers. Specifically, this study examined whether an undergraduate woman’s decision to have an abortion, carry to term and raise the child, or carry to term and place the child for adoption affects others’ perceptions of the woman herself. The findings are complex, as results suggest than an unmarried undergraduate woman may be judged differently depending on her pregnancy and her subsequent choices regarding that pregnancy, with the most extreme differences emerging between a woman who chooses carry to term and raise the child and a woman who chooses abortion. Furthermore, the results suggest that a pregnant undergraduate woman, regardless of whether she chooses to have an abortion or to carry to term, may face negative judgment from her peers. Whereas a woman who chooses to have an abortion is perceived as less moral and warm than a woman who chooses to raise her child, a woman who chooses to raise her child is perceived as having lower career aspirations than a woman who has an abortion. Moderation by abortion approval and religiosity were also examined. Findings are discussed in light of a stigma tradeoffs model.