Gender representation trends and relations at the United States Naval Academy
Lewis, Shannon FitzPatrick.
Laurence, Janice H.
Thomas, Gail F.
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This study employed quantitative and qualitative methods to examine gender trends and the quality of gender interactions at the United States Naval Academy (USNA). In addition to gender, midshipmen demographics, experiences, personality types, interests, and graduation outcomes were compared within and across gender for graduation years, 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, and 2004. Representation of women has increased to the current high of around 16%. Further, the data revealed similarities and differences between men and women in terms of their non-gender characteristics. Women's SAT scores and Cumulative Quality Point Ratios (QPRs) are on par with the men's. Proportionally, women are more likely to be extroverts and varsity athletes than are men. Women are less likely to be technical majors. Women are being afforded leadership experiences to the same extent as men. Perceptions regarding gender relations and cohesion were assessed through focus groups conducted with 110 midshipmen. Although gender representation has increased, and the Administration is credited with improving the explicit climate, there does not yet exist a completely gender-neutral or women "friendly" climate. The preponderance of findings regarding gender interactions at the Naval Academy suggests that male midshipmen have yet to fully accept female midshipmen. The Naval Academy must continue to confront the subsurface issues and dynamics persisting amongst male and female midshipmen. Recommendations include making an institutional commitment to improving gender interactions and company cohesion, securing alumni cooperation, and involving midshipmen in improving the gender climate.
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