Masculinity as a matter of course

Friday 23 June 2023, 12:30 pm
Female soldiers and hegemonic masculinity in the Dutch armed forces
PhD student
J. Bosch drs.
prof. dr. D.E.M. Verweij
dr. R. Moelker

Today, female military personnel are active in all ranks of the Dutch military organisation: they hold general positions, lead operational missions, join units that until recently were closed to women and are trained for combat positions. Against this positive development, there are factors complicating the role and position of female military personnel, such as stagnating integration and sexually transgressive behaviour. The masculine orientation of the military organisation is frequently mentioned as a possible explanation for this. However, to what extent such an orientation exists in the Dutch armed forces and what its consequences are for female soldiers has hardly been researched. 

In this study, based on literature review, a model was developed that illustrates the power effect and the (often invisible) impact of masculinity on people's behaviour and on gender relations in the organisation. For the military context, the developed model is associated with the warrior: the military professional who is legitimised to use (armed) force. Based on interviews with female military personnel, it was examined how masculinity manifests itself in their experiences during training and during a variety of missions. The power effect of masculinity shows itself in identity formation, bonding processes, discipline of the body and sexuality. Recommendations include focusing on raising awareness of transmission mechanisms of masculinity within the defence organisation.

Jolanda Bosch completed her doctoral studies in psychology at the University of Groningen (RUG) in 1989, specialising in personality psychology and occupational and organisational psychology. For the first four years of her career, she worked at the University of Amsterdam (UVA) as a research assistant in the Department of Work and Organisational Psychology. Since 1993, she has been working at the Netherlands Defence Academy (NLDA) in Breda, initially as a lecturer in psychology and, since 2014, as a university lecturer in military ethics at the Department of Military Business Studies (MBW). Within this position, she performs tasks and activities in the field of education, research, training, supervision and advice. Main areas of interest are: gender, power, group dynamics and moral professionalism in (violent) organisations.