Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
Ross C. Alexander
In spite of a newly developed military policy to facilitate gender integration since 2012, women service members in the U.S. Army today still face a discriminatory social climate. Male-dominated units foster the masculine ideal that subsequently leads to hypermasculine attitudes enabled through gender harassment behavior. Here, women employ coping strategies that facilitate either gender management or a balanced military identity, addressed in Culver's (2013) Gender Identity Development of Women in the Military (GIDWM) 4-phase matrix. A woman service member's position in the matrix is proportional to her level of gender management or military identity development. Similarly, her matrix position is directly related to the degree of gender harassment and cohesion within her unit, and the specific coping strategies she employs. These themes of gender harassment types and coping strategies, positive unit cohesion, and GIDWM identity position define the three research questions which are answered using the contextual framework and participant narratives. Taken together, the results showed that U.S. Army women service members successfully achieve a balanced military identity through effective leadership, mentorship, a cohesive unit, and self-actualization that promotes a meritocracy. These results facilitate an awareness of the present U.S. Army social climate and empower women in non-traditional roles to take similar steps towards a healthy, balanced identity. Therefore, this study represents a source of guidance and strength for and among women in male-dominated professions and presents empirical evidence to direct future gender harassment and gender integration military policies.