Cover: New Opportunities for Military Women

New Opportunities for Military Women

Effects Upon Readiness, Cohesion, and Morale

Published 1997

by Margaret C. Harrell, Laura L. Miller

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While some headlines have accented the negative side of gender integration in the military, this study paints a brighter picture. Gender integration has had only small effects on the matters that count most: defense readiness, unit cohesion, and morale. Among the officers and enlisted personnel of both sexes who participated in the study, there is a consensus that leadership, training, and workload are the primary influences on how well their units function. They also agree that servicewomen perform about as well as men. However, there are some areas of concern, such as confusion and anxiety about what constitutes sexual harassment and how the charges are handled; perceived double standards about physical requirements, and the effects of pregnancy on the readiness of units that are already understaffed or that include disproportionate numbers of women. The authors encountered a wide range of reaction to the women's expanded presence and roles. Taken together, however, the surveys, interviews and focus groups yielded a positive portrait of life in the integrated military.

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