How Gendered Perspectives Shape National Security

Presented by the RAND Women, Peace, and Security Initiative

Then Rear Admiral Carol Pottenger, commanding of Task Force 76, speaks with USAID personnel aboard the USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) during relief operations in southwest Bangladesh after Tropical Cyclone Sidr, photo by Peter Miller/U.S. Navy.

Then Rear Admiral Carol Pottenger, commanding of Task Force 76, speaks with USAID personnel aboard the USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) during relief operations in southwest Bangladesh after Tropical Cyclone Sidr.

Photo by Peter Miller/U.S. Navy

Event Details


April 18, 2024


10:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Pacific


The Forum at RAND's Santa Monica Office and Online


Register Now


In its press release for the 2023 Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Strategy and National Action Plan, the White House states that "Promoting women's meaningful participation, leadership and engagement in decision-making at all levels is both a moral and a strategic imperative for U.S. foreign policy and national security. Wherever the rights of women and girls are under threat, so, too, is democracy, peace, and stability." Operationalizing WPS principles is increasingly important to U.S. national security. Both the Department of Defense and the State Department are taking steps to apply gendered perspectives at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels.

Please join RAND's Women, Peace, and Security Initiative on Thursday, April 18, 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. for a public event to discuss the critical role that gendered perspectives can play in helping U.S. and allied government policymakers address the most pressing national security challenges of our time. The program will begin with a fireside chat with Vice Admiral (Ret.) Carol Pottenger, who rose through the Navy ranks to become the first woman to command a major combat organization—the Amphibious Force 7th Fleet/Expeditionary Strike Group 7. Vice Admiral Pottenger will discuss how her experience, and those of other women in the military, contribute to military readiness in a unique and meaningful way. A panel discussion featuring Dr. Deborah Avant (University of Denver), Dr. Endy Daehner (RAND), Dr. Mary Lee (RAND), and Dr. Kyleanne Hunter (RAND, moderator) will further explore how gendered perspectives lead to more comprehensive and more effective problem solving—and why these perspectives are indispensable in the face of national security challenges such as global threats to democracy, the intersection of biotechnology and artificial intelligence, and the impact of climate change. Barry Pavel, Vice President and Director, National Defense Research Institute and RAND National Security Research Division, will provide introductory remarks.


Vice Admiral Carol Pottenger

Keynote Speaker

Carol Pottenger

Vice Admiral, United States Navy (Retired)

Vice Adm. (ret) Pottenger is a native of Chicago, Ill., and grew up in Saint Petersburg, Fla. She graduated from Purdue University in May 1977, and was commissioned as an ensign through NROTC.

One of the first women selected for sea duty, Pottenger reported aboard USS Yosemite (AD 19) as engineering division officer and completed a Mediterranean deployment. Subsequent sea tours included assignment as operations officer aboard USS Yellowstone (AD 41) and executive officer aboard USS Kiska (AE 35). Pottenger assumed command of USS Shasta (AE 33) in 1996, completing several deployments in support of commander 5th Fleet and commander 7th Fleet. She took command of USS Bridge (AOE 10) in 2001, and during an extended deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, re-supplied 10 battle groups, amphibious groups and dozens of coalition ships; receiving the Battle E and the 2002 Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy.

Pottenger received a Doctor of Philosophy in Social Sciences Honoris Causa from Purdue University. Her personal awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit (6 awards), Meritorious Service Medal (3 awards) and Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2 awards).

Read More »

Deborah Avant

Deborah Avant

Sié Chéou-Kang Chair and Distinguished University Professor, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver

Deborah Avant is the Sié Chéou-Kang Chair and Distinguished University Professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver. Her research has focused on civil-military relations and the roles of non-state actors in controlling violence and generating governance. She is author/editor of f Civil Action and the Dynamics of Violence in Conflicts (with Marie Berry, Erica Chenoweth, Rachel Epstein, Cullen Hendrix, Oliver Kaplan, and Timothy Sisk), The New Power Politics: Networks and Transnational Security Governance (with Oliver Westerwinter); Who Governs the Globe? (with Martha Finnemore and Susan Sell); The Market for Force: the Consequences of Privatizing Security; and Political Institutions and Military Change: Lessons From Peripheral Wars, along with articles in such journals as International Organization, International Studies Quarterly, International Studies Review, Security Studies, Perspectives on Politics, and World Development. She is an observer member of the International Code of Conduct Association (ICoCA), was the inaugural Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Global Security Studies, and is past-President of the International Studies Association. Avant received a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, San Diego.

Read More »

Endy Daehner

Endy Daehner

Senior Physical Scientist, RAND

Endy Daehner is a senior physical scientist at RAND. At RAND, she conducts research on a variety of issues with a focus on energy and national security issues. In the area of energy, her work includes: energy strategy for Army installations; energy policy for Israel; and alternative vehicle fuels. For OSD, Daehner co-led a series of studies related to operational energy. She has also conducted intelligence-related studies for the US Army and Air Force. Her projects include: assessing the role of Multi-functional Teams in future Army operations; integrated, cross-domain target intelligence; processing, exploitation, and dissemination of intelligence; apportionment and allocation of UAVs; integration of strike and ISR planning and tasking; future roles and missions of UAVs; the role of Global Hawk in the maritime environment; and how to improve the integration of long-range standoff munitions planning and employment. Daehner received her Ph.D. in chemistry from California Institute of Technology and her B.A. in human biology from Stanford University.

Read More »

Mary Lee

Mary Lee

Mathematician, RAND

Mary Lee is a senior mathematician at the RAND Corporation. Her research interests include mathematical modeling and simulation of complex systems in the areas of defense/aerospace, cyber policy, and health care and chronic diseases. Projects at RAND include research on emerging Internet of Bodies technologies and analyzing air and space operations for the Department of the Air Force. Prior to her graduate studies, she worked for many years as a senior systems engineer at Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems, where much of her work centered on developing tracking algorithms for airborne radar systems. Lee received her Ph.D. and M.S. in mathematics from the University of California, Irvine, and B.A. in applied mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation research focused on mathematical modeling of cancer growth and metabolism.

Read More »

Kyleanne M. Hunter


Kyleanne Hunter

Senior Political Scientist, RAND; Professor of Policy Analysis, Pardee RAND Graduate School

Kyleanne Hunter is a senior political scientist at RAND and a professor of policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. She came to RAND from the United States Air Force Academy where she was director of the Strategy and Warfare Center, associate director of the Institute for Future Conflict, and a professor of military and strategic studies. She was the cochair of the Culture and Climate Line of Effort for the Independent Review Commission on Military Sexual Assault, and chair of the Employment and Integration Subcommittee for the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services. She holds a Ph.D. in political science & international relations from the University of Denver.

Read More »

Barry Pavel

Introductory Remarks

Barry Pavel

Vice President and Director, RAND National Security Research Division; Director, National Defense Research Institute

Barry Pavel is a RAND vice president, and director of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD). He also directs the National Defense Research Institute (NDRI), a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) within NSRD whose sponsors include the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense intelligence enterprise.

Read More »

About the RAND Women, Peace, and Security Initiative

RAND’s Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Initiative focuses on the indispensable role of women’s perspectives in addressing and solving critical issues of national and international importance. The WPS initiative sits within the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD), whose mission is to advance understanding of the world’s most pressing security threats and develop policies and strategies to help U.S. and allied government policymakers mitigate and defend against those threats. NSRD’s research priorities include deterring China and Russia—and thereby averting a worst-case, catastrophic, great-power war (i.e., WWIII); managing the risks and opportunities posed by artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and other advanced technologies; preparing more effectively for the dynamic impacts of climate change on geopolitics and U.S. military operations; strengthening alliances; and ensuring the health, well-being, and readiness of the Joint Force to execute the U.S. National Defense Strategy. Undergirding NSRD’s research priorities is a deep commitment to fostering the next generation of national security strategists and policy leaders.

Register for This Program

Please register online to attend. Contact Lily Hoak with questions about the event.