Does Combat Integration Lead to Gender Equality in the Military?

Event details

IR Seminar

Date & time

Friday 04 May 2018
2pm–3.30pm

Venue

SDSC Reading Room, Hedley Bull Centre (130), corner of Garran Road and Liversidge Street, ANU
ANU Canberra

Speaker

Megan MacKenzie, University of Sydney

Contacts

Julia Ahrens

Additional links

This presentation will feature the findings from several years of research on the integration of women into infantry roles in the US and Australia. It will focus primarily on the experience of US women who have integrated into infantry roles since the combat exclusion policy changed in 2013. The presentation will include an overview of the high expectations placed on removing the combat exclusion, including the hope that this policy change could begin to ease recruitment, retention and promotion, and lower sexual harassment rates for women. Drawing on interviews with the first women to serve in these infantry roles and feminist theory, the core argument is that there are competing and impossible expectations placed on the first infantry women to be both different and equal within the military institution. This research draws on data and infantry women’s narratives to highlight the rigid nature of military institutions and the limits of liberal feminism.

Megan MacKenzie’s research bridges feminist theory, critical security studies, and critical development studies. Megan has published dozens of articles on topics ranging from sexual violence in war, to truth and reconciliation commissions, to gender and the military. Her first book, Female Soldiers in Sierra Leone: Sex, Security and Post-Conflict Development featured interviews with over 50 female soldiers in that country and countered dominant narratives about women’s role in the civil conflict. Her most recent book, Beyond the Band of Brothers: the US Military and the Myth that Women Can’t Fight, has garnered international attention and widespread praise. The book has been reviewed or cited by the Washington Post, New York Times, Mother Jones, Stars and Stripes and the Atlantic, and Foreign Affairs called it a rigorous contribution to the debates on women in combat.

The recording of this event can be found here.

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