Skip to main content Accessibility help
Organizational Obliviousness
  • Cited by 2

Organizational Obliviousness

  • Entrenched Resistance to Gender Integration in the Military
  • Alesha Doan, University of Kansas, Shannon Portillo, University of Kansas

Exploring efforts to integrate women into combat forces in the military, we investigate how resistance to equity becomes entrenched, ultimately excluding women from being full participants in the workplace. Based on focus groups and surveys with members of Special Operations, we found most of the resistance is rooted in traditional gender stereotypes that are often bolstered through organizational policies and practices. The subtlety of these practices often renders them invisible. We refer to this invisibility as organizational obliviousness. Obliviousness exists at the individual level, it becomes reinforced at the cultural level, and, in turn, cultural practices are entrenched institutionally by policies. Organizational obliviousness may not be malicious or done to actively exclude or harm, but the end result is that it does both. Throughout this Element we trace the ways that organizational obliviousness shapes individuals, culture, and institutional practices throughout the organization.

  • Export citation
  • Recommend to librarian
  • Buy the Element
  • Copyright

  • COPYRIGHT: © Alesha Doan and Shannon Portillo 2019


Hide all
Acker, J. (1990). Hierarchies, jobs, bodies: A theory of gendered organizations. Gender & Society, 4(2), 139–158. CrossRef | Google Scholar
Acker, J. (2006). Inequality regimes: Gender, class, and race in organizations. Gender & society, 20(4), 441–464. CrossRef | Google Scholar
Albert, S. , & Whetten, D. A. (1985). Organizational identity. Research in Organizational Behavior, 7, 263–295. Google Scholar
Alison, M. (2004). Women as agents of political violence: Gendering security. Security Dialogue, 35(4), 447–463. CrossRef | Google Scholar
Asencio, M. (2002). Sex and sexuality among New York’s Puerto Rican youth. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers. Google Scholar
Bird, S. R. (2003). Sex composition, masculinity stereotype dissimilarity and the quality of men’s workplace social relations. Gender, Work and Organization, 10(5), 579–604. CrossRef | Google Scholar
Bonilla-Silva, E. (2006). Racism without racists: Color-blind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in the United States. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Google Scholar
Bonilla-Silva, E. , & Dietrich, D. (2011). The sweet enchantment of color-blind racism in Obamerica. The Annals of the American Academy, 634, 190–206. CrossRef | Google Scholar
Britton, D. M. (1997). Gendered organizational logic: Policy and practice in men’s and women’s prisons. Gender & Society, 11(6), 796–818. CrossRef | Google Scholar
Britton, D. M. (2000). The epistemology of the gendered organization. Gender & Society, 14(3), 418–434. CrossRef | Google Scholar
Britton, D. M. (2003). At work in the iron cage: The prison as gendered organization. New York: New York University Press. Google Scholar
Burrelli, D. F. (2013). Women in combat: Issues for Congress . Washington, DC: Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service. Google Scholar
Butler, J. (1990). Gender trouble and the subversion of identity. New York: Routledge. Google Scholar
Charmaz, K. 2006. Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Press. Google Scholar
Chatterjee, R. (2018). “A New Survey Finds 81 Percent of Women Have Experienced Sexual Harassment.” National Public Radio. Google Scholar
Chemaly, S. (2015). “Biology Doesn’t Write Laws: Hillary Clinton’s Bathroom Break Wasn’t as Trivial as Some Might Like to Think.” [Blog] 66 Huffington Post. Google Scholar
Cohn, C. (2000). “How can she claim equal rights when she doesn’t have to do as many push up as I do?” The framing of men’s opposition to women’s equality in the military. Men & Masculinities, 3(2), 131–151. CrossRef | Google Scholar
Connell, R. (2006). Glass ceilings or gendered institutions? Mapping the gender regimes of public sector worksites. Public Administration Review, 66(6), 837–849. CrossRef | Google Scholar
Courdileone, K. A. (2005). Manhood and American political culture in the Cold War. New York: Routledge. Google Scholar
Department of Defense. 2017. “Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military.” Google Scholar
Devilbiss, M. C. (1990). Women and military service: A history, analysis, and overview of key issues. Collingdale, PA: DIANE Publishing. Google Scholar
Doan, A. E. , & Williams, J. C. (2008). The politics of virginity: Abstinence in sex education. Social Forces, 89, 3. Google Scholar
Dolan, J. (2004). Gender equity: Illusion or reality for women in the federal executive service? Public Administration Review, 63(3), 299–308. CrossRef | Google Scholar
Dolan, J. (2000). The senior executive service: Gender, attitudes, and representative bureaucracy. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 10(3), 513–530. CrossRef | Google Scholar
Dull, M. (2010). Leadership and organizational culture: Sustaining dialogue between practitioners and scholars. Public Administration Review, 70(6), 857–866. CrossRef | Google Scholar
Elshtain, J. B. (1995). Women and war. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Google Scholar
Enloe, C. (2000). Maneuvers: The international politics of militarizing women’s lives. Berkeley: University of California Press. Google Scholar
Fausto-Sterling, A. (1992). Building two-way streets: The case of feminism and science. Nwsa Journal, 4(3), 336–349. Google Scholar
Fuegen, K. , & Biernat, M. (2002). Reexamining the effects of solo status for women and men. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28(7), 913–925. CrossRef | Google Scholar
Gagliardi, P. (1986). The creation and change of organizational cultures: A conceptual framework. Organization Studies, 7(2), 117–134. CrossRef | Google Scholar
Gioia, D. A. , Schultz, M. , & Corley, K. G. (2000). Organizational identity, image, and adaptive instability. Academy of Management Review, 25(1), 63–81. CrossRef | Google Scholar
Goldenhar, L. M. , Swanson, N. G. , Hurrell Jr., J. J. , Ruder, A. , & Deddens, J . (1998). Stressors and adverse outcomes for female construction workers. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 3(1), 19. CrossRef | Google Scholar
  • PubMed
  • 67 Hatch, M. (1993). The dynamics of organizational culture. The Academy of Management Review, 18(4), 657–693. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Herbert, M. S. (2000). Camouflage isn’t only for combat: Gender, sexuality, and women in the military. New York: New York University Press. Google Scholar
    Hesse-Biber, S. N. , & Johnson, B. (2015). The Oxford handbook of multimethod and mixed methods research inquiry. Oxford: Oxford University Press. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Hinojosa, R. (2010). Doing hegemony: Military, men, and constructing a hegemonic masculinity. Journal of Men’s Studies, 30, 179–194. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Hulett, D. M. , Bendick Jr., M ., Thomas, S. Y ., & Moccio,F . (2008). Enhancing women’s inclusion in firefighting in the USA. International Journal of Diversity in Organisations, Communities & Nations, 8(2), 189–207. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Jolls, C. , & Sunstein, C. R. (2006). The law of implicit bias. California Law Review, 94, 969. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Jurik, N. C. (1985). Individual and organizational determinants of correctional officer attitudes toward inmates. Criminology, 23(3), 523–540. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Jurik, N. C. (1988). Striking a balance: Female correctional officers, gender role stereotypes, and male prisons. Sociological Inquiry, 58(3), 291–305 CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Kanter, R. M. (1977). Some effects of proportions on group life: Skewed sex ratios and responses to token women. American journal of Sociology, 82(5), 965–990. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Kanter, R.M. (2008). Men and women of the corporation: New edition. New York: Basic Books. Google Scholar
    Keenan, J. O. (2008). The DoD combat exclusion policy: Time for a change? In M. M. Putko & D. V. Johnson (Eds.), Women in combat compendium (pp. 21–25). Washington, DC: Strategic Studies Institute. Google Scholar
    Keiser, L. R. , Wilkins, V. M. , Meier, K. J. , & Holland, C. A. (2002). Lipstick and logarithms: Gender, institutional context, and representative bureaucracy. American Political Science Review, 96(3), 553–564. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Kimmel, M. (2000). Saving the males: The sociological implications of the Virginia Military Institute and the Citadel. Gender & Society, 14(4), 494–516. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Kotter, J. P. , & Heskett, J. L. (2011). Corporate culture and performance. New York: Free Press. Google Scholar
    Kuipers, B. S. , Higgs, M. , Kickert, W. , Tummers, L. , Grandia, J. , & Van der Voet, J. (2014). The management of change in public organizations: A literature review. Public Administration, 92(1), 1–20. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Kumar, S. , & Kant, S. , 2006. Organizational resistance to participatory approaches in public agencies: An analysis of forest department’s resistance to community-based forest management. International Public Management Journal, 9(2), 141–173. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    68 Lewis, P. , & Simpson, R. (Eds.). (2010). Revealing and concealing gender: Issues of visibility in organizations. Berlin: Springer. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Lewis, P. , & Simpson, R. (2012). Kanter revisited: Gender, power and (in) visibility. International Journal of Management Reviews, 14(2), 141–158. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Linskey, A. (2015) “In swing states, Clinton may face gender bias. Voters often reluctant to back female candidates,” The Boston Globe. Google Scholar
    MacKenzie, M . (2015). Beyond the band of brothers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Martin, S. E. , & Jurik, N. (2007). Doing justice, doing gender: Women in legal and criminal justice occupations, 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Morden, B. J. (1990). The women’s Army corps, 1945–1978. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, United States Army. Google Scholar
    Nagel, J. , & Feitz, L. 2007. Deploying race, gender, class, and sexuality in the Iraq War. Race, Gender & Class, 14(3–4), 28–47. Google Scholar
    O’Leary, R. (2014). The ethics of dissent: Managing guerrilla government. Los Angeles: SAGE. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    O’Reilly, C. , & Chatman, J. (1996). Culture as social control: Corporations, cults, and commitment. In B. M. Staw & L. L. Cummings (Eds.), Research in organizational behaviour: An annual series of analytical essays and critical reviews. Vol. 18, pp. 157–200. Atlanta: Elsevier Science/JAI Press. Google Scholar
    Owen, D. , & Dennis, J. (1988). Gender differences in the politicization of American children. Women & Politics, 8(2), 23–43. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Parashar, S. (2009). Feminist international relations and women militants: Case studies from Sri Lanka and Kashmir. Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 22(2), 235–256. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Patten, E. , & Parker, K. (2011). Women in the US military: Growing share, distinctive profile . Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. Google Scholar
    Penner, Barbara . (2012). “We shall deal here with humble things.” Places Journal. Google Scholar
    Petersen, T. , & Morgan, L. A. (1995). Separate and unequal: Occupation-establishment sex segregation and the gender wage gap. American Journal of Sociology, 101(2), 329–365. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    69 Pettigrew, A. M. , Woodman, R. W. , & Cameron, K. S. (2001). Studying organizational change and development: Challenges for future research. Academy of Management Journal, 44(4), 697–713. Google Scholar
    Piderit, S. K. (2000). Rethinking resistance and recognizing ambivalence: A multidimensional view of attitudes toward an organizational change. Academy of Management Review, 25(4), 783–794. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Portillo, S. (2010) How race, sex, and age frame use of authority by local government officials. Law and Social Inquiry, 35(3), 603–623. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Powell, W. W. , & DiMaggio, P. J. (Eds.). (2012). The new institutionalism in organizational analysis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Google Scholar
    Plaskow, J. (2008). Embodiment, elimination, and the role of toilets in struggles for social justice. CrossCurrents, 58(1), 51–64. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Prokos, A. , & Padavic, I. (2002). “There oughtta be a law against bitches”: Masculinity lessons in police academy training. Gender, Work & Organization, 9(4), 439–459. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Ridgeway, C. L. (1997). Interaction and the conservation of gender inequality: Considering employment. American Sociological Review, 62(2), 218–235. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Sabharwal, M. (2015). From glass ceiling to glass cliff: Women in senior executive service. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 25(2), 399–426. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Saidel, J. R. , & Loscocco, K. (2005). Agency leaders, gendered institutions, and representative bureaucracy. Public Administration Review, 65(2), 158–170. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Santangelo, S. (2014, March 28). Fourteen women have tried, and failed, the Marines’ Infantry Officer Course: Here’s why. The Washington Post. Google Scholar
    Sasson-Levy, O. (2003). Feminism and military gender practices: Israeli women soldiers in “masculine” roles. Sociological Inquiry, 73(3), 440–465. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Schein, E. H. (1984). Coming to a new awareness of organizational culture. Sloan Management Review, 25(2), 3–16. Google Scholar
    Schein, E. H. (1990). Organizational culture. American Psychological Association, 45(2), 109. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Schein, E. H. (2010). Organizational culture and leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Google Scholar
    SHARP (2018) “What we know about sexual assault of military men.” Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Prevention. Google Scholar
    Skaine, R. (1999). Women at war: Gender issues of Americans in combat. Jefferson, NC:McFarland & Company. Google Scholar
    70 Stack-O’Connor, A. (2007). Lions, tiger, and freedom birds: How and why Liberation Tigers of Tamil employs women. Terrorism and Political Violence, 19(1), 43–63. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Tinkler, J. (2012). Resisting the enforcement of sexual harassment law. Law & Social Inquiry, 37(1), 1–24. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Tinker, J. (2008). “People are too quick to take offense”: The effects of legal information and beliefs on definitions of sexual harassment. Law & Social Inquiry 33(2), 417–445. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Tinkler, J. , LI, Y.E ., & Mollborn, S . (2007). Can legal interventions change beliefs? The effect of exposure to sexual harassment policy on men’s gender beliefs. Social Psychology Quarterly, 70(4), 480–494. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Voorhees, H. , & Skaggs, R.L.-S. (2015). Women leading government: Why so little progress in 30 years? Public Management, 97(1), 6–10, 12–13. Google Scholar
    Zimmer, L. (1988). Tokenism and women in the workplace: The limits of gender-neutral theory. Social Problems, 35(1), 64–77. CrossRef | Google Scholar
    Motivating Public Employees Marc Esteve and Christian Schuster Google Scholar
    Organizational Obliviousness: Entrenched Resistance to Gender Integration in the Military Alesha Doan and Shannon Portillo Google Scholar


    Altmetric attention score

    Full text views

    Total number of HTML views: 0
    Total number of PDF views: 0 *
    Loading metrics...

    Abstract views

    Total abstract views: 0 *
    Loading metrics...

    * Views captured on Cambridge Core between #date#. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

    Usage data cannot currently be displayed.