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Message posted on 04/03/2021

Online Seminar on Gender Equality and Diversity in Military Organizations

Dear colleagues,

The Centre for Gender Studies (CGF) at Karlstad University is hosting a seminar on why gender equality and diversity initiatives fail in military organizations with Beate Slk-Andersen next Wednesday, the 10th of March at 3:00 PM CET. You can read more info below. If you want to register, please send an e-mail to:

All the best,


10 March, 15.00-17.00

This seminar will take place on Zoom. If you wish to attend please contact Jennie Srnmark at Please remember to register for the seminar before March 8th!

Reasonable Resistance?

Why Diversity and Gender-Integration Policies Tend to Fail in Military Organizations

Beate Slk-Andersen, PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher

Why have Western military organizations for years and years been able to "dodge the bullet" when it comes to policies that aim to increase gender equality and diversity in the surrounding societies - and still to some degree seem to sidestep such political efforts? This paper examines how and not least why military organizations resist diversity and gender-integration policies by examining the rationales behind such resistance, hereby suggesting why such initiatives tend to fail in military settings.

It is widely documented that political and organizational initiatives to increase diversity and gender equality - in any sector or profession - do not necessarily lead to change. This article argues, however, that it is precisely the extraordinary nature of military work that is invoked as the argument against such initiatives through the mobilization of a narrative of exceptionalism. Building on interviews, observations, and document analysis, the article unboxes this narrative that works to shield military organizations from requirements and expectations put on "civilian" organizations. So while it may be difficult to find agreement that there is a problem to be solved in the first place, militaries are qua the narrative of exceptionalism assumed to be in their full right not to solve it.

Taking as its point of departure the Danish Defence's diversity policy adopted in 2011 - a policy that earned the organization an award for its efforts to promote diversity - this paper illuminates how diversity policies can be resisted as political ambitions of inclusion and equality are translated into practice. The paper unfolds how arguments about the armed forces' core task ends up making the diversity policy into a nonperformative (Ahmed, 2006) as its success lies in how 'it fails to bring about what it names.'

Author bio

Beate Slk-Andersen is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Organization, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. Her research focuses on processes of inclusion/exclusion, diversity, professional boundaries and embodied processes of professional becoming. Coming from a background in Ethnology, Slk-Andersen's research is typically founded on ethnographic fieldwork and pays particular attention to the subtle processes taking place in everyday life.

Sebastian Mohr

Senior Lecturer in Gender Studies Managing Editor for NORMA: International Journal for Masculinity Studies

Karlstad University 65188 Karlstad Sweden

While most people address me with the pronouns he/him/his, I am thankful for communication that goes beyond a gender binary.

I will do my best to meet accomodation needs in communication and personal meetings, so please approach me directly in regard to accessibility.

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