Gender integration on U.S. Navy submarines: views of the first wave
Ellis, Krysten J.
Munson, Garold I.
Aten, Kathryn J.
Thomas, Gail F.
Eitelberg, Mark J.
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This project is an ethnographic case study documenting the experiences of the first group of women integrated into the United States Submarine Force. The study seeks to: 1) document the process through which each of the women was selected and became a submariner; 2) identify hindering and supporting issues and concerns (e.g., life-work balance, job-role expectations, and career development); 3) describe the organizational culture and cultural change drivers; 4) identify and describe how the women’s experiences affected both their professional and personal lives; and 5) identify the benefits of gender integration for the submarine force as expressed by the women integrated. The methodology included a combination of qualitative research methods from ethnographic and case studies. Data was collected and analyzed for themes in order to answer the research questions. Fifteen female submarine officers, including 11 from the first group integrated, were interviewed using semi-structured questions during January–May 2015. The responses were recorded and transcribed. The interviews focused on the following themes: general experience, supporting and hindering factors, submarine culture effects, personal and professional impacts, and benefits. This project creates an organized, qualitative data set detailing first-person accounts of a momentous occurrence in U.S. Navy history. This is a rich source of information that can be used in future studies to explore gender integration and organizational culture generally or more specifically aboard Navy submarines. Additionally, the preliminary analysis establishes a baseline for continued study of initial integration on submarines. The authors provide recommendations for further research to support gender integration in the United States military.
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