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Organizational processes and gender integration in operational military units: An Israel Defense Forces case study

This study examines collective action by men and women in operational military units deployed on Israel's borders. Gender integration is generally perceived by soldiers and commanders in these units as a trivial matter rather than an issue for discussion or a disadvantage. The integration results from organizational qualities, which include military leadership with accumulated experience in gender integration; division of labour between men and women that gradually develops during protracted training; screening processes within the units; and professional development of commanders. Our findings negate a large corpus of sociological literature on gender integration in military organizations. We discuss the micro‐social processes that enable or deter mixed‐gender integration in operational units. Our findings are presented as an alternative to arguments on the inevitable marginality of women in the military and that equality is neither a prerequisite of a cohesive mixed‐gender unit nor a barrier for the inclusion of women into combat units.

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