Date of Award

Summer 8-13-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Susan Mann

Second Advisor

D'Lane Compton

Third Advisor

Vern Baxter


This thesis supplements existing literature by examining the relationship between institutional regulations and gendered assumptions about bodies. This thesis draws from feminist social constructionist perspectives and gendered organizational theories to explore the role of gendered body assumptions in the organizational framework of a hypermasculine political institution. Using the U.S. military as an illustrative example, this thesis studies military policies and rationales historically, focusing on the post-Vietnam accelerated inclusion of women, the increasing use of combat as a divisive component, and the gendered structural elements that are used to determine physical competence. Findings coincide with existing literature and suggest that social meanings relating to gender are a prominent influence in U.S. military policy historically and contemporarily, even when biological reasons are cited as justification. This research provides implications for understanding institutional, strategic use of gender and provides analysis of how physical bodies and accompanying social meanings are impacted by institutional goals.


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