Psychological aspects of the integration of women into combat roles

Psychology Department, Tel Aviv University, Israel; Surgeon General H.Q, Israeli Air Force, Israel; Heller Institute of Medical Research, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, The Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Israel
Personality and Individual Differences (Impact Factor: 1.86). 01/2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2010.10.014

ABSTRACT Successfully integrating women into army combat roles can be a challenge. This study aimed to identify the factors that allow women to integrate efficiently into combat units. We compared women and men in a gender-integrated combat unit with non-combat women soldiers in a non-integrated unit. A sample of 450 Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers participated in the study during their four-month military basic training (BT). The subjects completed trait and state personality questionnaires and underwent medical examinations. Female soldiers in both combat and non-combat units displayed higher stress levels than male soldiers. Female soldiers in combat roles were more similar to their male counterparts than to female non-combat soldiers in several of the psychological measures used, but felt ‘more commitment and challenge’. Combat women sought more medical assistance than non-combat women. We address the difficulties that women in combat roles face and discuss the influence of mediating psychological factors on their perceived stress and its influences.

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