Facing the Challenge of Being a Woman Officer in the Belgian Army: Personality Profile and Coping Strategies


Forty years ago, the first women soldiers joined the Belgian army. Since then, much progress has been made in the feminization of the staffs, particularly through various laws and policies implemented on this purpose. However, female staff is still a largely under-represented group in the Belgian army. This could be mainly explained by the fact that the characteristics traditionally assigned to women do not match the military culture, primarily based on so-called “male” values. Given this situation, we tried to identify the personality profile and the coping strategies of those women who chose to pursue a leadership career, as army officer, in a male-dominated environment. We therefore conducted a survey with a selected sample of 38 female military officers. Four tools were used: an anamnestic questionnaire, the Revised NEO Personality Inventory, the Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations and the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory. From the main sample, we then extracted a subsample of 17 officers who agreed to participate in a semi-structured interview. The results of the personality inventory revealed high marks in the areas of extraversion and consciousness, and a low score in neuroticism. The CISS allowed us to demonstrate that our subjects do not use a specific style of coping and the CSEI highlighted that their self-esteem is within the average range. The semi-directive interviews confirmed these results and allowed us to observe that most of our subjects do not perceive discrimination relating to their career development even if the access to promotions is still limited.

Author Information
Marielle Bruyninckx, University of Mons, Belgium
Dimitri Cauchie, University of Mons, Belgium
Marina Capomasi, University of Mons, Belgium

Paper Information
Conference: IICSSHawaii2017
Stream: Psychology & Social Psychology

This paper is part of the IICSSHawaii2017 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon