Title

Negotiating Gendered Expectations: The Basic Social Processes of Women in the Military

Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Department

Media and Communication

First Advisor

Sandra L. Faulkner, PhD (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Ellen Gorsevski, PhD (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Lynda D. Dixon, PhD (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Vikki Krane, PhD (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

Melissa Miller, PhD

Abstract

This research identifies the basic social processes for women in the military. Using grounded theory and feminist standpoint theories, I interviewed 39 active-duty and veteran service women. Feminist standpoint theories argue that within an institution, people who are the minority, oppressed, or disenfranchised will have a greater understanding of the institution than those who are privileged by it. Based on this understanding of feminist standpoint theories, this research argues that female service members will have a more expansive and diverse understanding of gender and military culture than male service members. I encouraged women to tell the story of their military experiences and used analysis of narrative to identify the core categories of joining, learning, progressing, enduring, and ending. For women service members, the core variable of negotiating gendered expectations occurred throughout the basic social processes and primarily involved life choices, abilities, and sexual agency. This research serves as a forum for the lived experience of women in the military; through these articulations a set of particular standpoints regarding gender, war, and military culture emerge. Additionally, these data offer useful approaches to operating within male-dominated institutions and provide productive strategies for avoiding and challenging discrimination, harassment, and assault.