Women, Leadership and Gender Integration in the Canadian Combat Arms: A Qualitative Study


  1. Febbraro, A.R.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Toronto, Toronto ONT (CAN)
The present study examined the perceptions of 26 women in the Canadian combat arms regarding their concepts of effective leadership. Included in the sample were both leaders (8) and followers (18) from each of the four combat arms (infantry, armoured, artillery, combat engineer). The study employed semi-structured qualitative interviews and Berry's (1989) acculturation framework (assimilation, integration, separation, marginalization) to investigate whether women in the Canadian combat arms currently feel that women leaders must assimilate to masculine concepts of leadership (i.e., adopt a masculine leadership style), or whether feminine (person-oriented) leadership attributes (e.g., compassion) and masculine (task-oriented) leadership attributes (e.g., decisiveness) are both valued, reflecting true gender integration. Based on the women's perceptions of effective leadership, the findings from this study suggest that both integration and assimilation are currently in force in the Canadian combat arms. In terms of integration, participants spoke of the importance of both feminine and masculine characteristics in defining effective leadership; most leaders in this study did not feel that they must adopt a masculine leadership style in order to be seen as effective; and all eight leaders in this study described their own leadership style in integrative terms, even emphasizing the importance of their feminine attributes to effective leadership. In terms of assimilation, many part

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Gender and leadership;Women in combat;Gender integration;Female participation;Women in the military
Report Number
DRDC-TORONTO-TR-2003-170 — Technical Report
Date of publication
11 Dec 2003
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF);CD ROM

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