Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Kyle Bellue



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Leadership & Policy Studies

Committee Chair

Edith Gnanadass

Committee Member

Alison Happel-Parkins

Committee Member

Eric Platt

Committee Member

Kirsten Keller


Using Critical Military Studies (Basham & Bulmer, 2017; Duncanson & Woodward, 2016), this exploratory case study analysis describes how women officers made sense of their gendered experience within the military, and uses agency, as defined by Post-structural feminism (Davies and Gannon, 2005), to highlight how women are shaped by their environment. The purpose was to both observe how women officers perceived military gender beliefs and practices and analyze how those perceptions shaped how they learn to participate in the military, as well as to analyze how those experiences helped them reshape gender beliefs and practices within the military. I also used Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) (Engestrm, 1996, 2001, 2014; Sawchuk, 2003) to describe how women officers learn to participate within the military by observing their actions and motives within their overall activity of becoming an officer and then observing the resolution of contradictions found within that activity. I observed six U. S. Air Force women officers attending Air Command and Staff College. Even though the U. S. Air Force recently removed barriers for women seeking to work in careers historically offered only to men, women described several hidden barriers to their participation that continued to thrive within the military culture. This forced women to perform adaptive acts of resistance like avoidance and acceptance, as well as over-preparing and over-excelling, which could have long-term impacts that could distance men and women officer more from each other and discourage inclusivity. If the U. S. Air Force intends to formulate policy regarding the removal of barriers, it needs to also address cultural barriers that sometimes remain hidden yet are deeply rooted in the cultural expectations of what it means to be a member of the military forces.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest