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Women and job satisfaction in today's Canadian armed forces' climate
Pahl, Pamela S.
Brandon University, Faculty of Education
xx, 359 pages
Includes bibliographical references (pages 298-329).
"Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education."
Women have struggled throughout history in order to integrate successfully into the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). This research examined the cultural experiences of non-commissioned female members in male-dominated, non-combat arms occupations. Women’s historical to present-day service was examined and compared to other para-military organizations within Canada and other countries. Implications were also explored regarding strategies to recruit and retain women in the CAF and improve their quality of life within the organization. This qualitative study consisted of interviews of ten CAF members who identified as female and were serving in the ranks of Corporal to Sergeant. To this end, the primary research question was as follows: “What are the experiences of females who are currently serving, and who have previously served, in predominantly male-dominated, non-commissioned, non-combat arms trades?” The volunteers for this study were interviewed in a one-on-one confidential setting and were asked 6 preliminary questions, 16 main questions, 5 additional questions regarding the CAF’s Operation HONOUR initiative, and 1 final question. Four main themes resulted from the data: motivation, elemental differences, navigating gender, and the impressions of Operation HONOUR. Congruency of interests, skills, and experience strongly influenced job satisfaction, and 50% of the participants indicated that they would have selected a different occupation when enrolling in the organization. Despite instances of tokenism and harassing language and behaviours directed at the servicewomen throughout their careers, poor leadership in general and difficulties with overly competitive serving members had been the primary reasons for two members to consider exiting the organization. Job satisfaction was linked primarily to the perception of being provided challenging, interesting, and fulfilling work. Direct or indirect support from superiors and peers were also factors that related to job satisfaction. Postings and their associated environments of Army, Navy, or Air Force strongly influenced the women’s personal and professional experiences, with the Navy and Army being associated more closely with overall more misogynist treatment of women. The women navigated their gender in numerous ways in order to succeed, with most problems stemming from pregnancy and child care, and managing heavily physically demanding tasks. Male-to-male interactions were described as more physical and easygoing, cross-sex interactions were complex and varied but most often related to discrimination against females because of pregnancy and child care, and female-to-female interactions were described as extremes of either camaraderie to counteract male peer interactions or highly competitive and counter-productive. Female superiors in particular were mostly described in a highly negative manner, compared to male superiors. All of the servicewomen were very familiar with the Operation HONOUR initiative, and although they recognized that a problem of sexual harassment existed within the CAF, they attributed it to only a few perpetrators. Of these women, 90% believed that Operation HONOUR has made a positive difference, although 50% believed that it is has been implemented in too extreme a manner, and comments also included ways in which it has made their daily functioning more difficult because of servicemen’s retaliation to the initiative. Suggestions were made regarding Operation HONOUR to improve leadership, and to elicit feedback on a one-on-one versus group-oriented setting. Based on the study’s findings, recommendations for practice are provided to improve the quality of life of all serving members, from a recruiting standpoint via the CAF’s recruiting website to programs to orient women more fully to the CAF and its occupations. For those members who are currently serving, mandatory and consistent mentorship and leadership training are recommended, particularly regarding leading and assessing others, and managing instances of inappropriate conduct. Additional recommendations are made to counteract the difficulties of those members who are pregnant, on parental leave, or caring for their children. Suggestions are also made to counteract the problems associated with group-oriented reporting on the success of Operation HONOUR and making decisions when encountering harassment-related behaviours. The recommendations for further research respond to the limitations of the current study.
Women soldiers--Job satisfaction--CanadaEmployee motivation--Canada
Canada. Canadian Armed ForcesBrandon UniversityFaculty of Education