Retention of Women in the Danish Defence

Fie Møller Hansen, Kristina Maria Klausen & Marianne Dyrlund Vinsand

Student thesis: Master thesis


The purpose of this thesis is to provide a broader insight into the challenges regarding retention of the minority of military women in the Danish Defence. This has been investigated by focusing on the social and cultural constructions about gender presumed to be determining factors relating to the issue of retention. Utilising an empirical approach, we are able to benefit from the advantages of a qualitative method, aiming to achieve the best possible understanding of which tendencies appear essential to this thesis. Our main empirical data have been our in-depth interviews with 39 people in relation to the Danish Defence. It has primarily been interviews with both former and current military female employees from the Danish Defence, who have given us a great insight into what it is like being a minority in a male-dominated military community. Overall, the interviews have given us a much greater comprehension of how the view and understanding of the female minority in the Danish Defence are based on the social construction of binary perceptions of gender. What women or men bring with them in regards to their job as a soldier is believed to be affected by stereotyped and generalised beliefs of what men or women do best. These findings seem to strongly indicate that the view of the female soldiers is socially and culturally constructed The theoretical approach to the purpose of this thesis appears throughout the coverage of cultural aspects and underlying assumptions that influence the treatment of the minority of women in the Danish Defence. To cover this, we have been focusing on Schein’s (1964, 2004) theoretical intake. We have also analysed what impact it has on the women to be the minority of the military community. They constitute 7.2 per cent of the military personnel, and the women can, from Kanter’s (1977) perspective, be described as the group’s tokens, which make them a more visible part of the group and it is tiring for them to assume this role. Instead of focusing on women as the minority in the male-dominated military, this thesis attempts to bring a new focus on the cultural constructions. With the norm critical perspective in mind (Muhr, 2019), the Danish Defence is advised to make the rest of the group (the majority) aware of diversity and point out to them that equality is the new norm. Thereby, the focus will switch from how the minority should fit into the masculine military to how the majority of the group can embrace the minority and thus hopefully increase the retention percentage of women employed in the military arm of the Danish Defence, the very aim of the thesis.

EducationsMSc in Psychology, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages146
SupervisorsSara Louise Muhr