Defending the Realm: The Appointment of Female Defense Ministers Worldwide

TitleDefending the Realm: The Appointment of Female Defense Ministers Worldwide
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsBarnes, Tiffany D., and Diana Z. O'Brien
JournalAmerican Journal of Political Science
Date Published01/2018

Though the defense ministry has been a bastion of male power, a growing number of states have appointed women to this portfolio. With comprehensive cross-national data from the post–Cold War era, this study develops and tests three sets of hypotheses concerning women's access to the defense ministry. It shows that women remain excluded when the portfolio's remit reinforces traditional beliefs about the masculinity of the position, particularly in states that are engaged in fatal disputes, governed by military dictators, and large military spenders. By contrast, female defense ministers emerge when expectations about women's role in politics have changed. Women are also first appointed to the post when its meaning diverges from traditional conceptions of the portfolio, particularly in countries concerned with peacekeeping and in former military states with left-wing governments.

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