Women's Participation in High Technology & Knowledge-Intensive Military Units: New Opportunities, Traditional Barriers

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 08:45
Oral Presentation
Limor POMERANTZ-ZORIN, Bar-Ilan University, Israel
This paper examines how gender shapes the high-tech arena in the military, via the case of women officers who serve in high technology & knowledge-intensive division of the Israeli military.
The participation of women in high-tech and knowledge-intensive units[1] constitute an interesting case for the study of gender-military relations nowadays, because it is a highly prestigious organizational sector, whose centrality in the armed forces of our time is increasing.
The research method combined quantitative and qualitative approaches. In addition to analyzing the participation rates of women according to ranks and positions, we conducted a qualitative study focusing on the experiences of women officers in different stages of the military career.
The findings indicate that women's participation in high- tech units is characterized by tensions and contradictions. On the one hand, this military arena enables women to play challenging roles, to belong to the core of military action and to enjoy a high social and occupational status. However, alongside the opportunities inherent in it for women, this military arena is highly gendered. Masculinity is its underlying paradigm, and its reference point is that of an operational organization that requires full devotion. These schemes shape organizational climate and practices that push women to the margins of the military organization. The paper discusses the cultural and structural characteristics that preserve gender inequality in high-tech units, as well as the agency of the officers, who employ a variety of strategies in an attempt to overcome the difficulties involved in their military career.
The picture emerging from the study enriches our understanding of gender and military relations, and can serve as a basis for an intervention program to promote gender equality in this important military arena.

[1] For convenience, I shall refer to them briefly as "high-tech units”.