Masculinity Cultures in the Norwegian Military of Defense (completed)

Since the late eighties there has been a political goal to increase the representation of women in the military among all groups, and to ensure more women in leading positions. However, the measures implemented so far have not resulted in the desired effects.

About the project

The military is a male-dominated organization characterized by hierarchy, discipline and masculine values, ​​and there is a long tradition of hero worship. The social agents in the military position themselves in the field through their physical strength and one of the objectives of this project is to identify masculine cultures in the Norwegian Armed Forces, and in particular those who are in opposition to the political aim of a higher level of gender equality in the Forces.

Research design

The research design in this project includes mixed methods such as:

1) A quantitative survey measuring norms and value systems among men both in and outside the Military Forces. Their view on Gender Equality in general, and in the forces particular, are on significant interest. Different age groups are addressed.

2) In the qualitative pre-study we will prepare for informant interviews with high rank officers in the Ministry of Defence and some other central military authorities.

3) Case-studies following recruits in an army camp and on marine vessels, using methodology of Institutional Ethnography.


Some of the questions we want to explore in the project:

  • How and to what degree the Military of Defense reproduces and maintains an ideology of hegemonic masculinity that rejects women?
  • To what degree does a definition occur on what is perceived as masculine in a collective context, and how is this experienced by the individual in practice?

In the case-studies it will be focused on which types of masculinities that exist in the military today and how these are related to task solutions and how the military professional identity changes along with new tasks. A main problem in this field is the different types of masculinities that complicate gender equality in the military and one task is to identify and describe processes that contribute to maintain or change different types of masculinities. The project will also include which significance the body has in the understanding of men’s military professional identity.  A key question is; in what contexts is a military male professional identity linked to the exclusion of women as equal partners in the military arena.


Master students are doing comparative research comparing

a) the Norwegian approach to Gender Equality with the policies in use in Canada and Sweden

b) and the efforts done in the Norwegian Police resulting in a higher level of Gender equality through the last two decades.

Cooperation partners

Head of Section Dag Ellingsen Oxford Research Norway.

Professor Michael Kimmel, University of New York, Stony Brook.


The project is financed by the Norwegian Ministry of Defence.

Published Apr. 1, 2014 2:09 PM - Last modified Dec. 2, 2016 11:29 AM