Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Lydia L. Forsythe


The U.S. Selective Service System currently excludes women from the talent pool based upon the DoD's 1981 ban on women in direct combat. The DoD has removed the exclusion and has implemented a gender-neutral policy standard for assignments. However, there appears to be a misalignment of national security policy as it relates to gender fairness that impacts Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) participants in particular. Using Durkheim's functionalism theory as the theoretical foundation, the purpose of this phenomenological study was to examine institutional differences in policies regarding justice and gender among ROTC participants who are between 18 and 26 years of age in a Middle Atlantic University. Data were acquired through 10 interviews with ROTC members. These data were inductively coded and then subjected to Moustakas and Van Kaam's thematic analysis procedure. Key results included evidence that current policy is misaligned with gender enfranchisement, effective social change requires inclusion of both genders in registration, and a standards-based approach to equality is important to both men and women. This group of future military leaders wants the repeal of male only registration and the inclusion of female citizens as an expression of full citizenship and increased social equity. Further research using this methodological framework in different geographical regions and among different generations could add depth to the current body of knowledge. The implications for positive social change with new Selective Service registration policy would change the process towards registering all young adult citizens in the event of a national emergency which would be the codification of fairness and value for all citizens in public policy.