Identifying Sociological Factors Affecting Female Integration into Combat Arms

  • Lieutenant Colonel Teresa A. Schlosser

When Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, rescinded the 1994 direct ground combat definition and assignment rule in January 2014 he set in motion changes that will have sociological impacts across the Army’s combat arms. Therefore, Army leaders need to be aware of sociological theories commonly associated with individual / group acceptance as they integrate females into previously all-male units. Social Learning Theory explains how individuals learn as much, or more, from watching those around them as from their own actions. In-group Bias addresses internal biases groups develop to differentiate themselves from those not in the group and how the group dynamic works to maintain the homogeneity of the original group. Stereotype Threat describes the various ways minority individuals cope with the feeling of being judged by their minority status versus their actual skills and abilities. Each of these theories provide valuable insight to leaders concerning the changing group dynamics within combat arms units, enabling them to tailor their leadership to integrate females successfully.