Sample Essay: “How to Effectively Recruit and Retain Women in the Army”

Chapter 1: Introduction

Problem Statement. The role of women in armed forces cannot be underestimated. As Mertus (2008)1observed, numerous researches that have been conducted on military issues indicate that women do not only perform well as members of the armed forces but also enhance the cohesion within the force. Many countries have realized the importance of formulating policies that would increasingly incorporate women in the military. For instance, during the Vietnam War period that ended in 1975, the women in U.S. military constituted only two percent of the country’s entire military personnel. This percentage was increased to 14% by the end of 19982. Similar changes have been witnessed in Norway where deliberate moves have been made and prioritized in the recent years to increase women representation in the Norwegian Armed forces but the efforts to recruit andretainwomenin the Norwegian Army have born little success. For instance, out of the 9.7% of Norwegian women who were recruited in the military service under the compulsory exercise in 2011, very few of them were retained in the military after their successful completion of this compulsory military service. Such a trend poses a great challenge especially at this period when only 16.5% of Norwegian women apply to join the basic training for officers. The issue of women inclusion in the Norwegian military has been made the country’s main objective that has been backed by parliamentarians such as Marit Nybakk of the Labor Party with the political goal of women representation set to be 15%. Despite all these efforts, the situation has not improved with the current female representation in the military estimated to be only 8.5%3. Whereas it has been clear that there is a need to encourage girls to join the military, the issue of how toeffectivelyrecruit andretainthemin the Army is yet to be resolved.


Justification of the problem. The ability of women to perform well in the military has never been contested. In fact, studies indicate that the performances of male and female military officers are the same. As indicated by United Nations Security Council 1325, women join the military to make it strong and efficient in executing its role in prevention of conflict and resolving it amicably whenever it arises. Such unique characteristics of women makes a military force stronger implying that those military forces that have fewer women or none are weak, incompetent, and unable to carry out their functions diligently. With all these facts in mind, it is expected that military forces should continue to do everything possible to increase the number of women in the service. This is what the Norwegian military has been try to do even though it has only managed to increase the percentage of women in the force from 6% to the current 8.5% in the past 12 years. This means that the Norwegian military has only increased women representation by 2.5% over that period of 12 years. While some people may express their satisfaction in this rate of increment of women representation in the military, it is important to note that the political goal for increasing number of women in the Norwegian military is 15%. This means that the Norwegian military lags behind in increasing the number of women in the force. The reasons behind this discrepancy between the target proportion and the actual proportion at the moment that this paper seeks to examine remains unknown.

BackgroundIn 1977, the Norway armed forces admitted the first girls in the military school. In 1979, the first female cadet was admitted in the military academy. In 1985, the female military service was introduced. In 1982, Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth Sveri was appointed as the first civil servant in the military. Kristin Lund was also appointed as the first female general in Norway in 2009. She is currently the major general in the country. Kristin Lund was once appointed as the National Home Guard inspector general. Queen Sonja holds a degree in military brigade and she has the highest academic degree among the females in the armed forces of Norway4.

Resolution 1325 of the United Nations Security Council of 2000 spells out the vital women role in prevention as well as resolution of conflicts in the efforts to enhance peace building. It also stated the importance of women in equal participation in peace building. This resolution showed the importance of women’s full involvement in efforts to maintain as well as promote peace and security in addition to increasing the women role in decision making concerning conflict prevention and resolution. The Secretary-General was urged by the Security Council to expand the women role as well as contribution in the field-based operations of the United Nations. Such field-based operations are those undertaken by the military observers, human rights officers, humanitarian personnel, as well as civilian police5. As stated in resolution 1325 of the United Nations Security Council, defense is enhanced when the military has a high number of women. The Security Council also emphasized that the military needed to increase the number of women in order to take advantage of the numerous benefits that are associated with the diverse talents as well as abilities among women. As a result, the goal of recruiting more women in the military is still being pursued even up to date6. The aim of the Norwegian forces of defense is to have the gender perspective in its activities strengthened. The other aim is to ensure that resolution 1325 of the United Nations Security Council is incorporated in all military operations. In order to facilitate this, the Norwegian defenses seek to enhance its involvement in education, training, surgical operation in addition to evaluation7. In Norway, women have been accorded equal rights with their male counterparts in the military of occupation. This includes full participation in all the activities that are conducted in the force. In fact, very few western countries send women to participate in armed conflicts and Norway is one of these few countries. This gives Norwegian women a good opportunity to play an active role in combat. A long-term objective was made by the Norwegian armed forces to increase women proportion in the military positions up to 15 percent8. One of the conscious goals that Norway is currently undertaking is increasing the number of women in the military. This goal has been in force for a long time. Currently, Norway has 8.5 percent of women in military organization. The proportion of women is 8 percent in the Norwegian Army. In the Norwegian navy, women constitute of only 7.9 percent while those women who are in the country’s Air Force constitute of only 8.3%. The country’s National Guard has 6.4 percent women while those who are tasked with the duty of participating in international operations constitute of only 8 percent. For over twenty years, the proportion of militaryuniformed women has been fixed to a proportion of between 7% and 8%. This proportion is quite low given the fact that the civilian women proportion is 32.5%. Statistics indicates that the number of women who are annually recruited is sometimes less than the 8%. For instance, 745 women were employed in the military by September 2000 and this is almost 6 percent of the total number of military recruits at that particular period. Although the goal in the past few years has been drumming support to recruit more women in the military, there have not been any meaningful results. There have not been meaningful indications that this goal will be realized any time soon if the current are yet to be realized. Currently the female representation in the military is only 8.5 while the political target is 15 percent. Women inclusion and their proper representation in the force enhance diversity besides improving the efficiency of its operation. Such a move is necessary especially at this time when diversity has become a key element of the modern society. As Anne-Grete Str?m-Erichsen, the Norway Defense Minister, stated as she was addressing an annual meeting that brought femaleofficers together in Jattaon January2006, diversity should be used as a measure of how modern the Norwegian military organization is9. In her sentiments, Anne-Grete Str?m-Erichsen hinted that military organization cannot be modern unless women are included in the force and the degree of modernity can only be determined by the number of women in the force. In this case, women should not be viewed as weaker beings because modernization of the military force no longer requires physical strength but proper training, adequate supply of superior weapons, proper conflict management skills and well-trained soldiers who can execute their duties diligently. Whether these requirements for a modern military are lacking in the Norwegian defense force is a debatable issue. One may also wonder whether the main reason why the number of women in the force remains proportionally low as compared to their male counterparts is the country’s failure to meet these requirements. The need to understand why the number of women in the Norwegian army remains low has prompted the researcher to investigate the causes and recommend how women can be effectively recruited andretainedin the Norwegian Army.

Aims and Objectives


  • This study therefore sought to investigate how toeffectivelyrecruit andretainwomenin the Army.


  • The study sought to raise awareness on the best methods that can be used to effectively recruit and retain women in the Norwegian army.
  • It also sought to find out the challenges that women face in the army and how these problems can be solved in order to create a good environment for both male and female solders.
  • This study sought to highlight the reasons why women join the army and quit after a very short time and this will help in curbing high turnover rate.
  • It will also try to find out how the ex-service women felt when they were in the military and this will help in providing advice on the best methods that can be used to improve the system to be responsive to the needs of both the male and the female soldiers.

Key Question

The researcher conducted this study in an effort to answer the following key question: “How can the Norway army recruit women effectively and retain them in the force?”

In answering this question, thorough literature review was conducted. This review seemed to revolve around several themes that include motherhood activities such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, the provision of childcare, other themes that were evident in the literature review are marital status, use of recruitment method that are unfriendly to women and the causes of high turnover rate that were closely associated with poor or hostile work environment for women.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

The issue of motherhood has been cited as a major determinant of the decreasing number of women in the Norwegian army. The reason is that motherhood concerns all issues on pregnancy, breastfeeding and the provision of childcare in general. Munley (1986)10 carried out a study to examine the perception of air force members on pregnant co-workers. A total number of 11,847 members of the air force from 30 different bases all over the world were involved in the study. This study used the model of Terence R. Mitchell to understand group behaviour. Group structure characteristics, situational factors as well as individual differences were studied in association to pregnancy perception as an issue. Analysis was carried out on the obtained data from the work group air force survey. The National Opinion Research Centre as well as Systems Research and Applications Corporation prepared data for the US air force. The analysis showed that only 15.5 % of the total sample viewed pregnancy among the female co-workers as a big problem. Below 10 percent of the sample were of the opinion that pregnant women did not perform their duties as required. How both males as well as females viewed the issue of pregnancy among co-workers was different. Data showed that members belonging to the groups that are less cohesive considered pregnancy as a problem. Members who were assigned to work on the behalf of the pregnant women also perceived the pregnancy issue as a problem. The other group that perceived pregnancy as an issue are members who viewed that pregnant women had poor supervision regarding their duties. Those who belonged to groups that had more than 25 percent women co-workers were also for the idea that pregnancy is a big problem. This perception may make women in the armed forces resign from duty and this may decrease the number of women in the armed forces once they became pregnant. According to the findings of this study, these perceptions should be changed in order to retain more women in the army and to encourage potential recruits who aspire to join the armed forces11. The issue of pregnancy has not been controversial in the Norway only but many countries are still battling on how best they can address it especially among women in the military who, like any other woman, also have the right to have children. According to Bucher (1999)12, the pregnancy impact on United States army readiness emerged following the large-scale military servicewomen deployment as well as the Persian Gulf War. According to the reports from a number of deploying units, the non-deployable pregnancy rates among females were almost 30 percent of the women assigned. There were many studies carried to determine how pregnancy affected the army readiness. The pregnancy non-deployable numbers are above 16 percent in the support units as these units have high numbers of women soldiers. Pregnancy in the support units highly influences the women readiness and the pregnant soldiers’ experience. Butcher therefore suggested that it is important that the army evaluate for implementing a one-year maternity leave program that is effective soon after the female soldier is non-deployable for her pregnancy. A volunteer should fill her position. This program is an effective way of encouraging women to join the army and a way of retaining many women in the army as well13. Monsen (1997)14 carried out a literature review to identify how pregnancy influences women deployability in the army. In this review, Manson concluded that the military should recognize that women bring into the armed force unique capabilities and thus they should be encouraged to join the army by implementing proper policies that will encourage more women recruits and to retain the women who are already in the work force15. In a study that was conducted by Christopher (2004)16, it was observed that the armed forces in the United States are voluntary and comprise of both females and male troops. The women in the United States armed force are about 20 percent of the total force. There are unique challenges faced by the military personnel including wars, field training and deployment. Apart from this general challenges women in the military experience extra challenges including menstruation and pregnancy which impact negatively on their duties. The researcher in this study discussed issues to do with menstruation as well as the use of contraceptive to suppress the menstruation. He also discussed the unintended pregnancy of women in armed forces during their deployment, which highly influences their operations in the military. The use of oral contraceptives prevents women in the army from becoming pregnant and this increases the women morale and enables them to save their money. There are many benefits from the contraceptive use but there are also potential risks involved in the use of them. Women in the army in most cases use the contraceptives to prevent pregnancy and motherhood that may hinder their effective performance in the army. In this study, it was suggested that the army should implement a wide commander policy to address issues that concern women soldiers from the time they are recruited to the time they leave the army or their military career. The implementation of the policy will support as well as benefit the women military troops to accomplish their mission successfully. This will encourage them because when they are successful the women will not leave their work in the military17.

Sandercock (1993)18 carried out a study to investigate the breastfeeding incidence as well as the women’s duration in active armed force duty. There was no existing data concerning the breastfeeding duration among women in the armed forces. A sample consisting of 20 women active in armed force duties were chosen. They had their deliveries at the Midwest military medical centre. This study did not involve the women who had premature deliveries, maternal or infant complications or multiple gestations. The existing records in the medical centre provided the required data. The inpatient records of the mothers were examined in order to obtain demographic information, maternal complications in addition to form of delivery. The feeding type at the mother and infant discharge was also collected from infant nursery or from the register in neonatal intensive care unit. Infant outpatient records were examined in order to collect data regarding the feeding type at 2, 8, and 14 as well as 24 weeks. Data concerning infant complications was also collected. Calculation of frequencies was done to have the data summarized. Correlation was used to determine the association between breastfeeding duration among women in active armed force duties, their age, ethnicity, educational level, number of their children, and marital status in addition to maternal income during data collection. This study showed that 45 percent of the women in military duties continued to breastfeed after they were discharged from the medical centre. This study showed that there was no difference between marital status, number of children, ethnicity, delivery type, education level, socioeconomic status and type of work between women in armed forces and those who were not in the army. From these study findings, the prenatal nurses in the military should establish programs that will offer both prenatal as well as postpartum education in addition to supporting breastfeeding women in the armed forces duties. This will encourage more women to join the armed forces as well as their retention in the armed forces because they are assured that their infants will not suffer as they do their duties in the armed forces19.

Motherhood is closely related to marital status and the issue of who among the married and single women is more disadvantaged to serve in the army cannot be avoided. Marino Jr. (1990)20 carried out a study to examine the effect that single parents in addition to dual-military parents have on their readiness. The secretary of defence was requested by the congress to provide total accounting of sole-parent numbers in the military. The reason for this request was due to the fears that single parents especially women were unwilling to be deployed in the military because of their children concern. This study revealed that the military family care system is highly flawed due to commander emphasis failure and children care. Although this system had a great improvement in the recent past, the military has not yet met the requirements as well as needs of single and dual parents in the military. This failure could therefore deter women from being effectively recruited and retained in the army given that many women who are single parents may not be ready to take active roles in the army21. In yet another study, Reynolds (1991)22 investigated issues related to single as well as dual-service parenthood in the navy. It also investigated how the navy is able to manage these types of parents. Data was gathered from two surveys conducted from active-duty personnel in the navy. Statistics was obtained from the Defence Manpower Data Centre as well as Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OP-13W) in order to meet these thesis objectives. The study found that Navy force consists of only 8 percent of single as well as dual-service parents. The problems that these types of parents have are minimal as well as manageable. In addition, they have almost equal productivity compared to the rest of the services personnel in the navy. For the navy to be able to have an effective recruitment and retention of women there is a need to improve the policy governing the care responsibilities concerning single as well as dual-service parents. When the policy will be more effective then more women will have readiness of joining or retaining their duties in the army and particularly the navy23. Similarly, Rider (1980)24 observed that there is a change in the values, roles, as well as attitudes in the family structure. The model of traditional family that had the husband as the sole breadwinner and a dependent wife is being replaced with modern family model. Among the modern family model is the single parent model particularly single mother parenthood. This study examined the sole-parent family and the responsibilities that they have in the military. The results of this study show that one of the greatest problems that single parents experience is the issue of their childcare due to the many hours they spend without their children as they are always far from their homes. This affects their readiness in their armed force duties. For mothers to be effectively recruited to the army and to retain them, it is important that the army assists the single parents especially mothers with the family responsibilities. This will encourage more women to be recruited in the army25. Carroll (2005)26 carried out a study to identify the major challenges that the current army personnel is facing particularly on the issue of single parent in the army. In this study, it was found out that there is a need to address regulations in the army that seems ambiguous as well as contradictory towards the retaining as well as enlisting of single parents. The gathered demographic data by the army fails to provide information required when making decisions at organizational level and hides the effect that single parents may face or may have on the organization. The information does not also capture appropriate variables in the development regarding the army personnel. The policies should be able to retain experienced and well-trained single parents as well as reduce the population of those who are unable to withstand the armed forces duties plus their family responsibilities. Clear information will assist many women to make sound decisions when joining the army. The sound decisions will reduce their turnover and will help them remain in the armed forces27.

The methods that are used in army recruitment have been faulted to favour men. This has been especially due to the fact that there are fewer female recruiters as compared to male recruiters. The recruitment exercise has also been faulted in that it does not make proper use of modern technology. According to Kuncik, Pledge and Kuncik (2009)28, there are only about 14 percent of women soldiers. This ratio is an underrepresentation given that women form more than a half of the population in the world and that they have the potential of increasing the force quality. It was observed by the task force that both men and women could have similar recruitment in a number of arenas. However, there was a need to make some adjustments in order to improve the ability of the army to attract more women into joining the task force. One of the key effective ways of attracting more women to join the army is using female recruiters. According to the recent statistics available, the number of female recruiters is only 20 percent. For instance, SAREC recruiters are selected from various individuals including people who are nominated and who have volunteered. The eligibility requirements regarding the recruiters specifications include: recruiters are not supposed to be expectant and they should not be single parents. These specifications disproportionately deter women from being recruiters. The task force views that additional number of women recruiters will assist in decreasing harassment incidents and will be able to offer the women with a higher insight concerning the female soldier life. Sexual harassment cases during female recruitment process in the army deter women from joining the task force. Many women perceive the army as an institution that is antipathetic to the female gender. According to the findings by Time and Association Press, there are high incidents of sexual harassment during the women recruitment process by the army male recruiters. The offenders go unpunished most of the times and this has caused many fears in many women who aspire to join the army29. The army should use effective methods when recruiting female soldiers. One of the effective methods is the use of modern technology during the recruitment process. For instance in United States the army utilizes modern technology for its recruitment. The US army makes use of, a website that contains an advanced guide for recruitment referred to as the SGT STAR. The online recruitment has increased the quality as well as the potentials recruits’ contacts with the task force. Although there has been much effort to make the recruitment process effective particularly for women prospects, the army continues to have a bad image on the public. According to research, the recruitment strategy by the army fails to account for the highly needed use of the Internet for the potential influencers as well as enlistees. The army has done a little in fostering the online engagement particularly to the female interested recruits. Therefore, it is important for the army to have an enhanced web-based recruitment system. Today the women underrepresentation in the task force is a significant opportunity for qualified as well as capable women soldiers who want to join the army. Unfortunate though, many females do perceive the army as inhospitable and male dominated environment. The current advertisements feature primarily the male soldiers thus reinforcing this perception. Therefore, there is a need that the army should change this kind of perception in order to attract and maintain more female soldiers in a number of roles (Kuncik, Pledge and Kuncik, 2009).

A study by Harris, Steinberg and Scarville (1993)30 was conducted that was aimed at identifying the reasons why female captains who were to be promoted to the Major position opted to take voluntary leave as well as incentives. There were two interview sets conducted by the army. Those interviewed by telephone were 73 percent of women in the list of promotion, who had decided to leave. The interview was also carried out among active officers of the army to investigate the factors that they considered when making decisions concerning their careers. This study found out that multiple factors determined the officers’ career decisions. The career decisions are founded on current conditions assessment, progress as well as long-term career opportunities and conditions perceived by the officers. The factors considered by the members who left the force those who were currently serving seemed to be overlapping. The females and the males considered different factors. Both the males as well as the females considered the following factors as important promotion opportunities, family issues, equitable treatment, monetary incentives in addition to issues associated with current as well as future restructuring and downsizing of the force. The reasons for leaving that the women gave included, gender discrimination, childcare issues, joint domicile, and sexual harassment. The army should ensure that all these factors are considered and proper policies put in place to ensure that women who are joining the army are protected from the mentioned problems. This will be a way from encouraging effective women recruitment and their retention in the army31. In this case, the environment to which women are exposed in the military has been questioned as the turnover rate continues to rise. According to Westwood and Turner (1996)32, the army workplace environment is changing and is having a continuous transformation. Women are being encouraged to play key roles in the army. For women to accept the challenges and to be able to represent the army in higher percentage many questions are emerging. Some of the questions are related to the ability of women to juggle the many responsibilities they have with duties in the army. The other question is whether marriage and motherhood can influence their career progress as well as advancement opportunities concerning their career in the army as compared to their male counterparts. Since women have more responsibilities than males, the army should not place more hardship on female officer who have family responsibilities. The army should encourage all women wanting to join the army by giving them equitable opportunity to be able to serve their state as well as to fulfill their family responsibilities. The army should have better systems that will encourage women who desire to have their career in the army33.

Chapter 3: Research Methodology

Target Population. The target population for this study was all Norwegian women who are aged between 18 and 30. The choice of women as the target population was because the issue under study was about how to effectively recruit and retain women in the army. The age bracket that is considered for recruitment of women is those with the age of between 18 and 30. This does not leave those women who were once in the army but have already exceeded the age of thirty. The reason is that such people were recruited while they were between the stated age bracket and their age at this particular age is not of significant importance as long as they can recall what transpired during the time when they were in the army. As a result, the study targeted those women who had already completed their secondary school education and who had not yet decided what they intended to do after completing school. The researcher sought to understand what choices they were considering to take and the career path that they wanted to chose. The study also targeted those women who were already working in the military with special interest on those who were unaware of the opportunities that were available soon after completing the compulsory military service.

Sample Size. As earlier stated, Norway has 8.5 percent of women in military organization. The 2001 statistics from International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) indicate that the Norwegian military personnel are 28,000 in number (, 2013). This means that there are 2,380 women in the Norwegian military. The assumption is that the 8.5% women representation has been maintained up to date. In order to find out the number of participants to include in the study, the confidence level was set at 95% while the confidence interval was 5%. The total population of women in the Norwegian military was 2380. The following formula was then used to calculate the sample size.


Substituting the values in the above formula yields the following

SS =

SS =

SS = 384.16

Since the units of analysis are people, the sample size is rounded off to 384 participants.

Sampling MethodIn order to pick the 384 participants from the population, there were three categories of participants to consider. First, there were those women who had already completed their secondary school education and who had not yet decided what they intended to do after completing school. Secondly, there were those women who were already working in the military. Finally, there were those women who were once in the military but had already left the force due to various reasons. In this case, stratified sampling was used to select these participants where equal number of participants was selected from each category. The three groups of participants that were selected from the strata had 128 participants. However, one condition had to be met when selecting the sample for those women who were once in the military but had already left the force due to various reasons. The condition was that the sample selected had to have a former general inspector in The Army. For the sake of privacy and confidentiality, the anonymity of the former general inspector in the Army was maintained.

Data Collection. The researcher used three methods of data collection that sought to gather adequate information concerning the questions that required answers. These methods included interviews, survey, and observation.

Interviews were conducted where all the participants were involved. The reason for conducting the interviews was to collect as much qualitative data as possible from the participants. The use of interviews in the collection of data was vital in that it helped the researcher in collecting unique information besides understanding the interviewees’ interpretation on the issue of women enrolment in the military. There was also need to gather information that was numerically aggregated from the target participants. It was also important to find out the perception of the participants in their involvement in the military because the researcher cannot observe perception. The researcher had to engage the participants in a conversation and there was need to probe the information that the participants gave in order to clarify as well as refine both the interviewee’s information as well as their interpretations. Those who left the military had various reasons for doing so and the researcher sought to find out the details of the reasons given by the participants.

The researcher also used the survey method where several open-ended questions were asked to the respondents. This method of data collection however posed several challenges to the researcher. Open-ended surveys are very hard to code especially in this study where 384 participants were involved. The reason is that open-ended questions allow the participants to give answers to questions in their own words. Respondents also get a good chance to give comprehensive answers including the explanations behind each answer that they give. As a result, the researcher had a higher likelihood of discovering unanticipated issue that the question designers may not have known. With these advantages, it proved problematic and very challenging to allow respondents to use open-ended questions especially in analyzing the data. Since the researcher required comprehensive answers and respondents’ insight concerning those research questions that would help in finding out how more women can be recruited and retained in the Norwegian army, the use of open-ended surveys was inevitable. The responses that the researcher received from the open-ended surveys were compared to the other methods of data collection and this made it easier to deal with the problem of analyzing the data collected from the open-ended surveys. In other words, open-ended surveys complemented the interview method of data analysis.

The researcher also contemplated on using observation as one of the data collection methods. In this exercise, the researcher observed the girls in a military base camp without obstructing them. In other words, the researcher used naturalistic observation, which is also known as unobstructive research in gathering information from a military base camp. The researcher then collected the data without interfering with the normal behaviour of the girls. This was not an easy task especially given the fact that it was not possible for an individual to collect data in a military camp without obstructing the participants especially if one is not a member of the military force. The military base camp is also a highly guarded area and it was very hard to be allowed to collect data by observations given the fact that observation would take long to gather adequate data for the study. Despite these challenges, the researcher sought the relevant authority to collect information by observing the girls in a military base camp.

The use of these three methods was a major boost in enhancing the credibility of the study results and the authenticity of the data collected. Since each of these three methods of data, collection has its own strengths and weaknesses, their combination led to minimization of the errors involved in the data collection process besides enhancing the strengths by combining all the three methods. Though the questions were framed to meet the requirements of each of these three methods of data collection, the researcher summarized the questions in order to make it easy to gather the relevant information. This helped in coming up with a common questionnaire. In constructing the questionnaire, the following questions were asked.

  1. What were your expatiations of the army before you joined the military?
  2. Why did you choose to quit the army?
  3. What has the army done before in recruiting more women?
  4. What has the army done before to retain the women they already have in service?
  5. Whichrecruitmentmethods canbe used tobettertarget the women?

Chapter 3: Data analysis

SPSS version 16.0 was used in analysing the data collected. After conducting the interviews, answers for the questions were coded as indicated in the following table. The first column of the table represents the question that was asked to the respondents. The second question represents the code that was assigned to each response as represented in column three.

Question 1 What were your expatiations of the army before you joined the military?
1 Good salaries
2 Career growth through promotion on merit
3 Proper care for my children
4 Equality among all officers
5 Be a good mother
6 Marry and have my own family
Question 2 Why did you choose to quit the army?
1 Sexual harassment during the women recruitment process
2 Lack of fairness in promotion
3 Family issues
4 Lack of monetary incentives
5 Gender discrimination
6 Joint domicile that has no privacy
Question 3 What has the army done before in recruiting more women?
1 Women have been encouraged to play key roles in the army.
2 Introducing compulsory military service
3 none
Question 4 What has the army done before to retain the women they already have in service?
1 Women have been encouraged to play key roles in the army
2 none
Question 5 Whichrecruitmentmethods canbe used tobettertarget the women?
1 Fewer female recruiters
2 Failure to use modern technology

After conducting the analysis using descriptive option under the ‘analyze’ option in the SPSS window, the following frequency tables and bar charts were obtained.



What were your expatiations of the army before you joined the military? Why did you choose to quit the army? What has the army done before in recruiting more women? What has the army done before to retain the women they already have in service? Which recruitment methods can be used to better target the women?
N Valid 384 384 384 384 384
Missing 0 0 0 0 0

Frequency Table

What were your expectations of the army before you joined the military?
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid Good salaries 72 18.8 18.8 18.8
Career growth through promotion on merit 48 12.5 12.5 31.2
Proper care for my children 48 12.5 12.5 43.8
Equality among all officers 24 6.2 6.2 50.0
Be a good mother 96 25.0 25.0 75.0
Marry and have my own family 96 25.0 25.0 100.0
Total 384 100.0 100.0
Why did you choose to quit the army?
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid Sexual harassment 72 18.8 18.8 18.8
Lack of fairness in promotion 72 18.8 18.8 37.5
Family issues 48 12.5 12.5 50.0
Lack of monetary incentives 96 25.0 25.0 75.0
Gender discrimination 48 12.5 12.5 87.5
Joint domicile that has no privacy 48 12.5 12.5 100.0
Total 384 100.0 100.0
What has the army done before in recruiting more women?
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid Women have been encouraged to play key roles in the army 72 18.8 18.8 18.8
Introducing compulsory military service 168 43.8 43.8 62.5
none 144 37.5 37.5 100.0
Total 384 100.0 100.0
What has the army done before to retain the women they already have in service?
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid Women have been encouraged to play key roles in the army 144 37.5 37.5 37.5
none 240 62.5 62.5 100.0
Total 384 100.0 100.0
Which recruitment methods can be used to better target the women?
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid Fewer female recruiters 192 50.0 50.0 50.0
Failure to use modern technology 192 50.0 50.0 100.0
Total 384 100.0 100.0

Chapter 4: Results

As indicated in the statistics table, 384 valid responses represented the total number of respondents. All the respondents completed the questionnaire and this high rate of response was attributed to the fact that the interviews were conducted one-on-one with the respondents and this minimized the chance of having missing responses. It was clearly indicated that all the 384 respondents answered all the questions.

From the frequency table f the first question, it was revealed that women who join the military have different expectations. Among the top of the list of expectations were those of being a good mother and marrying and having a family. Out of the responses received on this question, 18.8% expected to earn good salaries while 12.5% expected to have a positive career growth. This response rate was equal to that of those people who expected to receive equal treatment with their male counterparts after joining the military. The least number of people expected to be treated equally with their male counterparts representing 6.2% of the respondents. This information is summarized by diagram 1 below.

Diagram 1


Concerning the question on why many women left the military, 18.8% pointed out to sexual harassment, 18.8% pointed out to lack of fairness in promotion, 12.5% cited family issues, and 25.5% cited lack of monetary incentives, while gender discrimination and joint domicile that deprived women of their privacy was cited by 12.5% each. This information is summarized by diagram 2 below.

Diagram 2


Regarding the question on what the army has done before in recruiting more women, the highest number of people representing 43.8% cited the issue of introducing compulsory military service. Out of the total number of respondents, 18.8% of them cited the fact that the military has been encouraging women to play key roles in the army. A large number of the respondents however said that army did nothing in recruiting women. This information is summarized by diagram 3 below.

Diagram 3


When the respondents were asked about what the army has done before to retain the women they already have in service, 62.5% said that nothing was being done while 37.5% pointed out to the fact that women were being encouraged to play key roles in the army. This information is summarized by diagram 4 below.

Diagram 4


When asked which recruitment methods can be used to better targets the women, those respondents who pointed out to lack of adequate number of female recruiters in conducting the recruitment exercise were equal to those who accused the military for failing to use modern technology. This information is summarized by diagram 5 below.

Diagram 5



Chapter 1: Discussion

The issue of family and childcare was revealed to have great impact on women military career. Many women expected to have families and have children soon after joining the military. This may be because they expected to meet many people and have meaningful relationships if they had none. Those who were already committed in a relationship believed that they would soon be financially stable. This is an important aspect in building strong family foundations where financial constraints would be minimal. The financial stability was also closely linked with career growth. The women who were newly recruited in the military expected to work hard and get promotion on merit. In relation to these expectations was the fact that women who joined the military anticipated to not only get equal treatment but also work in an environment that was sensitive to their unique needs. As mothers and wives, women have many roles to play in their lives. They play very vital role in the lives of their children and their absence may have dire consequences to the family institution. With all these roles in mind, those women who joined the military anticipated to have an environment where they could multitask and offer their services without many problems. The high rate of turnover, however, indicated that the expectations that these women had were not turned to reality. The issue of sexual harassment has been a major problem as the study results indicates. This issue begins right from the time of recruitment where most of the recruiters are men. Military personnel undergo thorough medical checkups and checks on physical fitness. Due to the small number of female recruiters, the male recruiters take the advantage to harass the female recruits sexually and this has been worsened by the fact that these female recruits fear the male recruits. They are therefore unable to resist such harassment and many opt to exit the force after such a disappointing experience that contravenes their expectations. Some senior officers in the force still believe that women are not competent enough to discharge their duties in the military. As a result, they are discriminated against when it comes to matters of promotion. Even though it has been proved that women’s performance in the military is not different from that of their male counterparts, the notion that women are inferior when compared to men is deeply rooted in the military force. This has been revealed one of the considerations that senior officers in the military consider while promoting the junior officers. Such inequality has discouraged women who opt to leave the military force and venture in other jobs that have little or no glass ceilings at all. As key pillars in the family, women have many issues that are related to the family and that may not be properly discharged by men or in their absence. for instance, the role of childbirth has been found to be a major challenge in the military where pregnant women have not been able to receive the special care that they deserve over the period when they are expectant. The male military personnel view pregnancy as a major challenge because women cannot be deployed in combat zones when they are pregnant and this means that it may not be possible to plant the exact number of female personnel that can be deployed if there is war. The issue of menstruation has also been confused with sickness because some women develop complications whenever they experience their only periods. Once the women get pregnant, they begin playing their most important role of caring for the pregnancy until that time when they give birth. After giving birth, another role of child caring begins and this complicates the matter when the women develop strong attachments with their children. As a result, they develop fear on how the life of their children will be without them and especially when they are deployed in combat situations when they may easily loose their lives. Such fears force some of them to leave the military and concentrate on caring for their children. Those women who marry or get their children or both, they find the salary that they earn to be insufficient to meet their needs and those of their families. Due to lack of monetary incentives, they opt to resign from service as military personnel and venture in other income generating activities. Other types of jobs that either offers the environment that is family friendly also attract them. In this case, the military job has encountered stiff competition from other sectors in Norway. For instance, the civilian market, ccivilian jobs and colleges have offered better working conditions than the military do and this has led many women to leave the force. women value privacy more than men do. in the military, most women live in joint domicile that has been cited as amajor challenge to them. those who are married find it hard to live peacefully with their husbands and husbands of other women within the same domicile. this has also been revealed to be another opportunity that male officers cease to harass their female counterparts sexually.

The introduction of compulsory military service has been cited as a good move to encourage more women to join the military. this move has however been faced by many challanges and the worst has been that of retaining more women in the service. whereas the norwegian government has managed to work hard to ensure that more women join the military, little efforst hae been made to retain those women who have already joined the force. while this has been mentioned as a major achieveent in recruiting many women in the force, some see it as just an opprtunity to spend some time before venturing in other things. this has been the reason why many women are leaving the military after a very short time. the military has also given women an opportunity to occupy higher ranks and play other roles in the army. while this has been seen as a key motivation among women, the rate at which this change has been effected is too slow and this has led many women to dismiss this move arguing out that those women who get such positions are those who have served extremely long periods of time while men serve for a short time and end up being promoted. many fail to understand the fact that the military has few women and the promotion should be proportional to the total number of each gender in the army. the problem seem to lie on the fact that there is no properly spelt out process that the offers should follow for them to be promoted to higher ranks. Promotion on merit is a bit challenging because performance is mainly measured when one is executing his/her duties. It is important to note that military personnel are not always in war and the period when there is no armed conflict has proven to be very challenging in assessing ones level of performance. with all these views, many women feel that no measures have been put in place to attract large number of women in joining the army. their argument can only be assessed by examining the unique characteristics of women that need special attention to enable them to lead a life that is equally comfortable to that of men. an affirmative action may not necessarily be the case because women are not denied the opportunity to join the military. this means that there is need to address their unique needs and improve the working environment to make it hospitable and friendly to both the male as well as female soldiers.

The issue of retaining more women in the military has not been taken with the seriousness that it deserves. for any organization to retain its personnel, it must be able to examine what the competitors are offering and compare it with what they are offering. for instance, if a woman earns a certain amount of money in the military and find out that the public service or the private service can offer better remuneration packages, it becomes very easy fopr that woman to continue working in the military. Money is not the only motivation. The issue of the family has been one of the most misunderstood issues in the military. The Norwegian military has not been able to realize that recruitment by itself is not a guarantee that the number of women in the military will increase. Even though recruitment exercise is an important aspect of raising the number of women in the military, little or no efforts have been put in place to curb the current turnover rate in the army.

The process of recruitment determines the kind of perception that the newly recruited military personnel will have on the force. many people who wish to work with a retain organization have different things that drive them to working in them, the moment one comes into contact with those who work in that specific organization, their perceptions may easily change for the worse. This is what has been happening to women who join the Norwegian army as revealed by the study. The recruitment exercise has been very unfriendly to women with many of them reporting their disappointment that have been as a result of sexual harassment from the male recruiters. The study reveals that those who were sexually harassed formed the largest number of those who exited the force. Their morale in working in the military reduced when they realized that male soldiers were less harassed and this brought about the issue of gender equality. if one gender has the power to harass another, it means that the dominant gender is highly valued as compared to the less dominant gender. Some of the actions that the military should have used was to minimize the contact between the male recruiters and the female recruits. this could have been achieved if modern technology was used in the recruitment exercise or if more female recruiters were involved. Unfortunately, none of these suggestions has been put in place and this is why women prefer not to join the military if they will have to undergo sexual harassment in the hands of the male recruiters.

Conclusion and recommendations

In Norway, one of the political goals is increasing the number of women in the army. The small number of women in the army has fuelled this drive. It means that women’s expectations and the actual situation on the ground do not match and this causes high level of disappointment. The expectations of these women do not match with what they later on find in real world.

Membership list was used in identifying the participants in the study. In collecting the data, other than interviewing the participants only, the researcher also sought to have an audience with a former inspector of the army.

Statistics form the Norwegian website for the armed forces indicate that 8.5% of all the military personnel are women while men make up the remaining 91.5%. The country’s political goal has been to increase the proportion of women in the army to 15%. This study sought to identify the reasons why the number of women in the military has remained so low that it has failed to achieve the political goal of 15%. The rationale for conducting this study has been elevated by the available quantitative data that is evidently displayed under the literature review.

Since the reasons behind the shortfall in the intended number of women in the Norwegian army and those that are currently present are based on personal issues, the study concentrated mainly on the qualitative data in investigating this discrepancy.

The discrepancy is evident in the last 12 years when the number of women has only increased by utmost 2.5%. This means that peace building in Norway is at stake bearing in mind the role of women in the army as spelt out under the United Nations Security Council 1325. Despite the efforts that the Norwegian armed forces have made to achieve the political goal, the efforts have not managed to bear any meaningful fruits. This study has therefore gone beyond revealing the discrepancy between the intended number of female soldiers in the military and the actual number of female soldiers in the military as documented. It has revealed the reasons why this number has remained so low despite the efforts that have been made to increase women representation in the army. The following are the reasons why the Norwegian military has not managed to increase the number of women as revealed in this study.

The women expectations before joining the military have not been turned to reality. The Norwegian army has done little or no efforts to make these women’s expectations a reality. Whereas issues concerning gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and equal treatment among male and female military personnel lies squarely in the hands of the military leadership, these vices have continued to frustrate women who wish to join the military force. They have also frustrated those who have already joined the force. The issue of equality has been ignored or addressed inappropriately where some basic needs and privileges that should be accorded to women have been denied. Such issues include privacy matters, nearness to family, pregnancy matters, and childcare issues. Though the issue of financial remuneration packages cut across the military force, the working conditions have been insensitive to women issues and this has given male soldiers a better working environment as compared to their female counterpart. This has led to increase in employee rate of turnover among the female military personnel. The process of recruitment has been largely insensitive to women recruits where the Norwegian military has failed to involve many women recruits to carry on the exercise as a way of motivating more women and avoiding harassment from male recruits.

This study has clearly indicated that the military service has not reached its expectations as indicated by the small number of women in the force that falls short of the political target of 15%. The issue has been worsened by the high rate of turnover among the female military officers. Such high rate of turnover can only been interpreted as disappointments among the women military officers and if something is not done, the worse can be expected where the number of women will continue to decrease drastically until there are no women left in the force. the disappointments of these women vary across the board where majority of them find it hard to cope and remain within the force after realizing that there expectations can never be achieved if things remain the way they are in the force. The need to introduce changes is very urgent if the Norwegian military force is serious in meeting the 15% target of women representation in the force. With all these revelations, the Norwegian military has a major role to play in changing the negative perception of women about joining the force. Because of the urgency of the need to accomplish the goal of increasing the number of women in the military based on the revealed facts and findings, I recommend the following.

  1. Campaign should be conducted across Norway to sensitize women on the importance of joining the military. This campaign should be done to alleviate the fears that the military is not a good place for women to pursue their goals in life.
  2. All women in the Norwegian military should be trained on how they can conduct a recruitment exercise. This will ensure that there are adequate numbers of women military personnel who can handle the recruitment exercise as a way of minimizing sexual harassment during recruitment exercises.
  3. Maternity leave should be properly enshrined in the military personnel’s terms of service. This will alleviate the fear that one cannot be a good mother upon joining the military.
  4. Women related issues should be handled with the sensitivity they deserve. For instance, women should be recruited even when they are pregnant as long as they are physically fit and in good health. It is wrong to equate pregnancy to a disease or disability.
  5. Technology should be used in conducting some of the tests that would have otherwise been conducted by the male recruits. Use of technology minimizes contact between the female recruits and the male recruiters.
  6. During the times of peace, married women and those women with young children should be stationed in areas where they can easily join their families after the day’s work. This will enhance their ability to take care of their children and have time with their husbands in order to avoid their families from disintegrating.
  7. All promotions should be based on merit other than gender stereotypes and baseless perceptions. This would ensure that women fight for their rightful share in the army by enhancing their performance without having any thoughts that may discourage them to pursue their career growth within the military.
  8. While maintaining the issue of compulsory military service, retaining of military personnel should be made a priority. Retention of female military personnel should be done as follows.
    1. Offering remuneration packages that are competitive to minimize the turnover rate caused by search for greener pastures.
    2. Taking necessary steps to punish acts of sexual harassment and gender discrimination.
    3. Establishing childcare centers within the military camps where lactating mothers can have close attention with their babies.
    4. Establishing well-equipped medical centers within military camps to take care of complications during pregnancy and menstruation.

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