Predictors of Support for Women in Military Roles: Military Status, Gender, and Political Ideology


The repeal of combat restrictions by gender raises the importance of understanding factors related to the acceptance of women serving in the full range of military jobs. Previous research shows military affiliated cadets, especially males, are substantially less approving of women serving in military jobs, especially those involving exposure to direct combat or command positions, than are other college students. The current study extends these findings by considering political ideology in addition to gender and military affiliation, as related to attitudes toward women's roles in the military overall and in combat roles in particular. Survey data from Service Academy cadets (n = 3,116), Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets (n = 1,367), and nonmilitary affiliated college students (n = 2,648), provided measures of whether a woman should or should not be allowed to serve in 9 different military job areas. In addition to overall approval, a scale for combat jobs was created from a subset of 4 of the jobs. Regression analysis indicated that once gender, political party, political position (left/right), and attitudes toward mothers in the workforce overall were controlled, type of college did not add to the prediction of acceptance of women in various military roles. In general, nonmilitary affiliated respondents, women, and those identifying as Democrat offered higher approval scores. Our findings suggest more aggressive programs, designed to educate and socialize these future leaders about women's roles in the military, may require development.

Document Type





gender, military roles, combat jobs, service academy, conservativism

Publication Date


Journal Title

Military Psychology