Moderators of gender-based barriers in the U.S. Army: How enlisted women increase their own recruitment, promotion, participation, retention, and integration

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McDonald, Jeff
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In their women's integration plan, the U.S. Army (2016b) called for studies to identify and "develop strategies to overcome [gender] barriers" (p. 13) women encounter, without an institutional understanding of gender retention differences despite studies conducted by Asch, Miller, and Weinberger (2016) and others. During the Army Gender Integration Study (GIS), Arnhart et al. (2015) identified stereotypes and prejudices found in gender research such as that of Tepe, Yarnell, Nindl, Van Arsdale, and Deuster (2016) and Segal, Smith, Segal, and Canuso (2016). Women encounter career barriers in the Army (Arnhart et al., 2015) without a shared understanding (Tepe et al., 2016) of what active strategies other women use as moderators and when to employ them (Segal et al., 2016). This study was designed to understand and explain how moderators of gender-based barriers contribute to enlisted women's increased recruitment, participation, retention, integration, and promotion to the highest enlisted rank of Sergeant Major in the Army. Eagly and Karau's (2002) role congruity theory (2002) and Glick and Fiske's (1996) ambivalent sexism theory are foundational to the study. A transformative, mixed methods, multiple-case study research design was used. Archival survey datasets provided by the Office of People Analytics (OPA; 2017), artifacts, and semi-structured interviews provided evidence to address the research questions. The population included all women selected for promotion to the rank of Sergeant Major in the U.S. Army, of which a purposeful sample of 12 women was drawn from the annual class of 62 women students attending the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy. Kruskal-Willis H, Manniv Whitney U, and chi-square tests were used during quantitative analyses of archival datasets followed by qualitative analysis of interview transcripts. Convergent integration of quantitative results with qualitative interview results aligned with the quantitative evidence of gender barriers encountered between groups of women and the qualitative moderators described by participants during interviews. Findings include moderators of gender-based barriers used by women to support their promotion, participation, and integration. Recommendations include the linkage of gender, equal opportunity, and ethics training to message the sources of cultural stereotypes contributing to gender-based barriers to change behaviors toward women in the Army.
women , army , gender , integration , justice , barriers , leadership
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