Unsung Heroes: Women’s Contributions in the Military and Why Their Song Goes Unsung



Six years after the terrorist attacks on the United States, the debate of women’s roles in the military continues to be hotly contested. The debate persists in spite of the fact that one of seven soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan (Ledford 2003) is a female and that women have received the Bronze Star for bravery in combat since the war in Iraq began in 2003. Officially, the US Pentagon maintains the policy that women cannot be assigned to a combat unit. However, women are assigned to support services that may be attached to a combat unit. Unofficially, however, the policy and the practice are apparently out of step. Whatever the assignments’ officially’ are, the reality is that any military assignment can potentially lead to a combat situation. The distinction between combatants and military support personnel is blurred. Those in the military are trained that’ a soldier is a soldier first and foremost’ and that they belong to the same team. The soldier’s sex/gender, on the other hand, is socially significant only to the degree that society makes it so.


Gender Role Gender Stereotype Military Culture Female Soldier Combat Unit 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Addis, Elisabetta/ Russo, Valeria E./ Sebesta, Lorenza (Eds.) (1994): Women Soldiers, Images and Realities. New York: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  2. Adolph, Robert B. (1997): Why Military Men are Angry. In: Army Times, 58:20, 54.Google Scholar
  3. Amos, Tori (2001): Strange Little Girls. New York: Atlantic Recording Corporation.Google Scholar
  4. Astin, Helen S. (1991): Women of Influence, Women of Vision: A Cross-Generational Study of Leaders and Social Change. San Francisco, Cal.: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  5. Barker-Plummer, Bernadette/ Boaz, Cynthia (2005): War News as Masculinist Discourse. In: Feminist Media Studies, 5:3, 370–374.Google Scholar
  6. Baroffio-Bota, Daniela (2005): Militarized Femininity and the Nation: Mediating the Jessica Lynch Story. Conference Paper of the International Communication Association’s 2005 Annual Meeting in New York.Google Scholar
  7. Barry, John/ Thomas, Evan (1997): At War over Women. In: Newsweek, 129:19, 48.Google Scholar
  8. Beattie, Peter M. (1996): The House, the Street, and the Barracks: Reform and Honorable Masculine Social Space in Brazil. In: Hispanic American Historical Review, 76:3, 349–384.Google Scholar
  9. Blankenship, Janie (2005): Ever-Changing Roles of Women in the Military. In: VFW, 92:6, 40–50.Google Scholar
  10. Boghosian, Heidi (2005): Gauntlet of Change. In: Guild Notes, 30:2, 1–14.Google Scholar
  11. Boldry, Jennifer/ Wood, Wendy/ Kashy, Deborah A. (2001): Gender Stereotypes and the Evaluation of Men and Women in Military Training. In: Journal of Social Issues, 57:4, 689–705.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bowker, Lee H. (Ed.) (1998): Masculinities and Violence. Thousand Oaks, Cal.: Sage.Google Scholar
  13. Boyce, Lisa A. (2003): The Relationship Between Gender Role Stereotypes and Requisite Military Leadership Characteristics. In: Sex Roles, 49:7/8, 365–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Brady, James (1993): Women in the Infantry? In: Advertising Age, 10 May, 32f.Google Scholar
  15. Britt, Thomas W./ Adler, Amy B./ Castro, Carl (Eds.) (2006): Military Life: The Psychology of Serving in Peace and Combat. Vol. 4: Military Culture. Westport, CT: Praeger Security International.Google Scholar
  16. Brooten, Lisa (2003): Militarization, Media and the Gendered New World Order: A Case Study of the Burmese Opposition-in-Exile. Conference Paper of the International Communication Association’s 2003 Annual Meeting in San Diego, Cal.Google Scholar
  17. Brown, Melissa T. (2004): Designing GI Joe: Congress, the Military, and National Identity. Conference Paper of the International Studies Association’s 2004 Annual Meeting in Montreal, Canada.Google Scholar
  18. Cheatham, Harold E. (1984): Integration of Women into the U.S. Military. In: Sex Roles, 11:1/2, 141–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cohn, Carol/ Enloe, Cynthia (2003): A Conversation with Cynthia Enloe: Feminists Look at Masculinity and the Men Who Wage War. In: Signs, 28:4, 1187–1207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Corry, John (1997): Flinn-Flam. In: American Spectator, 30:7, 44–47.Google Scholar
  21. Crawley, Vince (2004): Army Plans to Officially Put Women on Front Lines. In: Army Times, 65:15, 21–21.Google Scholar
  22. DeGroot, Gerard J. (2001): A Few Good Women: Gender Stereotypes, the Military and Peacekeeping. In: International Peacekeeping, 8:2, 23–38.Google Scholar
  23. Devries, Tamela (2003): Women in the Field Deserve Recognition. In: Navy Times, 52:31, 62.Google Scholar
  24. Donegan, Craig (1996): New Military Culture. In: CQ Researcher, 6:16, 361–382.Google Scholar
  25. Dowler, Lorraine (1998): ‘And They Think I’m just a Nice Old Lady’. Women and War in Belfast, Northern Ireland. In: Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, 5:2, 159–177.Google Scholar
  26. Dunbar, Cynthia (1992): Toward a Gender-Blind Military. In: Harvard International Review, 15:19, 5255.Google Scholar
  27. Durning, Kathleen P. (1978): Women at the Naval Academy: An Attitude Survey. In: Armed Forces & Society, 4:4, 569–588.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Elshtain, Jean Bethke (1987): Women and War. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  29. Elshtain, Jean Bethke (1991): Feminism and War. In: Progressive, 55:9, 14–16.Google Scholar
  30. Etlin, Michelle (1997): Harassment under the Microscope. In: Army Times, 57:35, 54f.Google Scholar
  31. Filene, Peter G. (1986): Him/Her/Self: Sex Roles in Modern America. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Friedman, Barbara (2005): ‘The Soldier Speaks’: Yank Coverage of Women and Wartime Work. In: American Journalism, 22:2, 63–82.Google Scholar
  33. Fuentes, Annette (1991): Equality, Yes — Militarism, No. In: Nation, 253:14, 516–519.Google Scholar
  34. Gardner, Frieda (2004): Anti-War in the Heartland. In: Women’s Review of Books, 21:5, 4–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Golan, Galia (1997): Militarization and Gender: The Israeli Experience. In: Women’s Studies International Forum, 20:5/6, 581–586.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Goldstein, Joshua A. (2001): War and Gender: How Gender Shapes the War System and vice versa. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Graff, E. J. (2003): Bring Me Women. In: American Prospect, 14:5, 22.Google Scholar
  38. Hampf, M. Michaela (2004): ‘Dykes’ or ‘Whores’: Sexuality and the Women’s Army Corps in the United States during World War II. In: Women’s Studies International Forum, 27:1, 13–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Harries-Jenkins, Gwyn (2002): Women in Extended Roles in the Military: Legal Issues. In: Kümmel 2002: 745–770.Google Scholar
  40. Heinecken, Lindy (2002): Affirming Gender Equality: The Challenges Facing the South African Armed Forces. In: Kümmel 2002: 751–765.Google Scholar
  41. Henslin, James M. (2005): Down to Earth Sociology: Introductory Readings. 13th Edition. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  42. Hirschfeld, Robert R. et al. (2005): Teams’ Female Representation and Perceived Potency as Inputs to Team Outcomes in a Predominantly Male Field Setting. In: Personnel Psychology, 58:4, 893–924.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Holland, Shannon L. (2006): The Dangers of Playing Dress-up: Popular Representations of Jessica Lynch and the Controversy Regarding Women in Combat. In: Quarterly Journal of Speech, 92:1, 27–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Horowitz, David (1992): The Feminist Assault on the Military. In: National Review, 44:19, 46–49.Google Scholar
  45. Howard III, John W. (2004): Rescuing Patriarchy or Saving ‘Jessica Lynch’: The Rhetorical Construction of the American Woman Soldier. In: Women & Language, 27:2, 89–97.Google Scholar
  46. Hudson, Victoria A. (2004): Women Unfairly Denied Shot at Ranger School. In: Army Times, 64:45, 54.Google Scholar
  47. Iskra, Darlene et al. (2002): Women’s Participation in Armed Forces Cross-Nationally: Expanding Segal’s Model. In: Kümmel 2002: 771–798.Google Scholar
  48. Jamieson, Ruth (1996): The Man of Hobbes: Masculinity and Wartime Necessity. In: Journal of Historical Sociology, 9:1, 19–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Kaplan, Danny (2006): Military Masculinities: Identity and the State. In: Men and Masculinities, 8:3, 375–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Karner, Tracy Xavia (1998): Engendering Violent Men: Oral Histories of Military Masculinity. In: Bowker 1998: 197–232.Google Scholar
  51. Kasinky, Renee Goldsmith (1998): Tailhook and the Construction of Sexual Harassment in the Media. In: Violence Against Women, 4:1, 81–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Kazdin, Alan E. (Ed.) (2000): Encyclopedia of Psychology, Vol. 5. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  53. Kirkwood, R. Cort (2001): Women in Combat: A Moral, Mortal and Morale Danger. In: Human Events, 57:42, 12–14.Google Scholar
  54. Klein, Uta (2002): The Gender Perspective of Civil-Military Relations in Israeli Society. In: Kümmel 2002: 669–687.Google Scholar
  55. Krueger, Gerald P. (2000): Military Culture. In: Kazdin 2000: 252–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Kumar, Deepa (2004): War Propaganda and the (Ab)Uses of Women. In: Feminist Media Studies, 4:3, 297–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Kümmel, Gerhard (Ed.) (2002): Women in the Armed Forces of the World: Recent Trends and Explanations (Current Sociology, 50: 5, Monograph 2). London-Thousand Oaks-New Delhi: Sage.Google Scholar
  58. Ledford, Tranette (2003a): These Battles Killed Women, too. In: Air Force Times, 64:18, 22.Google Scholar
  59. Ledford, Tranette (2003b)): Women at WAR. In: Army Times, 64:18, 18.Google Scholar
  60. Lemish, Dafna (2005): The Media Gendering of War and Conflict. In: Feminist Media Studies, 5:3, 275–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Lister, Sara E. (2000): Gender and the Civil-Military Gap. In: U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, 126:1, 50.Google Scholar
  62. Lubold, Gordon/ Bailey, Laura/ Hodierne, Robert (2004): Coed Combat. In: Navy Times, 53:49, 6–16.Google Scholar
  63. Mann, Bonnie (2006): How America Justifies Its War: A Modern/Postmodern Aesthetics of Masculinity and Sovereignty. In: Hypatia, 21:4, 147–163.Google Scholar
  64. Marsden, Martha A. (1991): Sex-Role Attributes, Mental Health, and Job Satisfaction Among Enlisted Army Women in Traditional and Nontraditional Military Units. In: National Journal of Sociology, 5:1, 81–89.Google Scholar
  65. McCracken, Peggy (2003): The Amenorrhea of War. In: Signs: Journal of Women in Culture & Society, 28:2, 265.Google Scholar
  66. McElroy, Cheryl (1994): Women at War? World History Is Full of Examples. In: Army Times, 8 August, 35.Google Scholar
  67. Mettrick, Jon (1996): Gender Stereotypes and Predictions of Performance: Women in Air Combat. In: Journal of Social Behavior & Personality, Special Issue: Handbook of Gender Research, 11:5, 105–120.Google Scholar
  68. Miller, Laura L. (2005): Social Movements: Women in the Military. In: Henslin 2005: 520–537.Google Scholar
  69. Neumayr, George (2004): Equality Equals Death. In: American Spectator, 37:6, 50f.Google Scholar
  70. Newman, Richard J. (1997): ‘Human Relations’ Offensive. In: U.S. News & World Report, 123:11, 29.Google Scholar
  71. O’Beirne, Kate (2003): A New Horror of War. In: National Review, 55:7, 24–26.Google Scholar
  72. Olsson, Louise/ Tryggestad, Torunn L. (Eds.) (2001): Women and International Peacekeeping. London-Portland: Frank Cass Publishers.Google Scholar
  73. Owens, Mackubin T. (1997): Mothers in Combat Boots. In: Human Life Review, 23:2, 35.Google Scholar
  74. Pierce, Penny (2006): The Role of Women in the Military. In: Adler, Amy B./ Castro, Carl (Eds.) Military Life: The Psychology of Serving in Peace and Combat. Vol. 4: Military Culture. Westport, CT: Praeger Security International Britt/Adler/Castro 2006:97–118.Google Scholar
  75. Plummer, Anne (2005): Female Soldiers in the Cross Hairs. In: CQ Weekly, 63:23, 1498f.Google Scholar
  76. Pochoda, Elizabeth (1993): Reading Around. In: Nation, 257:7, 250.Google Scholar
  77. Rathzel, Nora (2004): Gender at War and in Peace. In: European Journal of Women’s Studies, 11:1, 126–138.Google Scholar
  78. Rich, Frank (2004): Saving Private England. In: New York Times, 16 May, Section 2, 1–8.Google Scholar
  79. Rooks, Sheri Crowley (2000): Looking at G.I. Jane through Lenses of Gender. In: American Communication Journal, 2:1, 1.Google Scholar
  80. Rosen, Leora N. et al. (1996): Cohesion and Readiness in Gender-Integrated Combat Service Support Units: The Impact of Acceptance of Women and Gender Ratio. In: Armed Forces & Society, 22:4, 537–553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Rosen, Leora N./ Knudson, Kathryn H./ Fancher, Peggy (2003): Cohesion and the Culture of Hypermasculinity in U.S. Army Units. In: Armed Forces & Society, 29:3, 325–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Rothstein, Linda (1991): War of Words over Women Warriors. In: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 47:10, 6f.Google Scholar
  83. Ruby, Jennie (2005): Women in Combat Roles: Is That the Question? In: Off Our Backs, 35:11/12, 36.Google Scholar
  84. Runck, Taryn McCall (2006): Feminists in the Military. In: Off Our Backs, 36:2, 17f.Google Scholar
  85. Sanprie, Virginia (2005): Identity Cleft: Analysis of the Identity Construction in Media Coverage of the Jessica Lynch Story. In: Feminist Media Studies, 5:3, 388–391.Google Scholar
  86. Sasson-Levy, Orna (2002): Constructing Identities at the Margins: Masculinities and Citizenship in the Israeli Army. In: Sociological Inquiry, 43:3, 357–383.Google Scholar
  87. Sasson-Levy, Orna (2003a): Feminism and Military Gender Practices: Israeli Women Soldiers in’ Masculine’ Roles. In: Sociological Inquiry, 44:3, 440–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Sasson-Levy, Orna (2003b): Military, Masculinity, and Citizenship: Tensions and Contradictions in the Experience of Blue-Collar Soldiers. In: Identities, 10:3, 319–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Scarborough, Rowan (2006): Death Toll of Female Troops ‘Troubling’. In: The Washington Times, 26 December.Google Scholar
  90. Segal, Mady W. (1995): Women’s Military Roles Cross-Nationally: Past, Present and Future. In: Gender & Society, 9:6, 757–775.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Serlin, David (2003): Crippling Masculinity. In: GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian & Gay Studies, 9:1/2, 149–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Shields, Patricia M. (2000): Gender Camouflage: Women and the U.S. Military. In: Armed Forces & Society, 26:3, 505–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Simon, Rita J. (1998): Introduction. In: Gender Issues, 16:3, 3–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Simons, Anna (2001): Women in Combat Units: It’s Still a Bad Idea. In: Parameters, 31:2, 89–100.Google Scholar
  95. Steeves, H. Leslie (1987): Feminist Theories and Media Studies. In: Critical Studies in Mass Communication, 4:2, 95–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. Stiehm, Judith Hicks (2001): Women, Peacekeeping and Peacemaking: Gender Balance and Mainstreaming. In: International Peacekeeping, 8:2, 39–48.Google Scholar
  97. Symons, Ellen (1991): Under Fire: Canadian Women in Combat. In: Canadian Journal of Women & the Law, 4:2, 477–511.Google Scholar
  98. Takacs, Stacy (2005): Jessica Lynch and the Regeneration of American Identity and Power Post-9/11. In: Feminist Media Studies, 5:3, 297–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. Tasker, Yvonne (2002): Soldier’s Stories: Women and Military Masculinities in Courage Under Fire. In: Quarterly Review of Film & Video, 19:3, 209–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  100. Titunik, Regina F. (2000): The First Wave: Gender Integration and Military Culture. In: Armed Forces & Society, 26:2, 229–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  101. Torres-Reyna, Oscar (2002): The Polls — Trends: Women and Sexual Orientation in the Military. In: Public Opinion Quarterly, 66:4, 618–632.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  102. Wallace, Bruce (1998): Minister for the Defence. In: Maclean’s, 111:2, 34.Google Scholar
  103. Winslow, Donna/ Dunn, Jason (2002): Women in the Canadian Forces: Between Legal and Social Integration. In: Kümmel 2002: 641–668.Google Scholar
  104. Woodward, Rachel (2004): Discourses of Gender in the Contemporary British Army. In: Armed Forces & Society, 30:2, 279–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  105. Young, Tasia (1996): Most Admired Women and Men: Gallup, Good Housekeeping, and Gender. In: Sex Roles, 35:5/6, 363–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  106. Zillman, Dolf/ Taylor, Kay/ Lewis, Kelly (1999): Dispositions toward Public Issues as Determinants of Reactions to Bad and Good News. In: Medienpsychologie: Zeitschrift fur Individual-& Massenkommunikation, 11:4, 231–243.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften | GWV Fachverlage GmbH, Wiesbaden 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Edinboro University of PennsylvaniaEdinboroUSA

Personalised recommendations