Abstract: Research suggests Australian childless women are at risk of pronatalism-driven social exclusion. This exploratory, mixed methods, cross-sectional study described and explored the social exclusion of Australian childless women aged 25 to 44 years, and asked: what are the nature and extent of social exclusion of childless women; and do the nature and extent of exclusion vary for different types of childless women? A total of 776 childless female Australian residents aged 25 to 44 years completed a self-administered questionnaire. Quantitative data were collected on childlessness types, indicators of exclusion and perceived stigmatisation and exclusion due to being childless. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics, One Way ANOVAs and Kruskal Wallis Analysis of Ranks. Qualitative data on childless women’s experiences were inductively thematically analysed. Findings suggest societal-level pronatalism drives exclusion of Australian childless women. While exclusion occurs in all domains of life, childless women experience more exclusion, and perceive more exclusion due to being childless, in the social and civic domains than the service and economic domains. Circumstantially and involuntarily childless women, followed by voluntarily childless women, perceive more exclusion due to being childless than undecided and future childed women. Experiences are influenced by the nature of women’s ‘deviance’ from pronatalism.
Keywords: childlessness; demography; fertility; pronatalism; social exclusion; stereotypes; stigma