Document Type

Book Chapter


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

Clonan, T. Captain, (2000) Sisters In Arms, The Status and Roles Assigned Female Personnel in the Irish Defence Forces, Dublin, DCU.


In this chapter I will briefly outline, by means of example and for the purpose of comparison, the integration of women in the international military. This outline is not intended to be an exhaustive history. It focuses primarily on the British and American experience since the end of the second world war. I have chosen the British and American armies as they are those armies with which the PDF has had most contact in terms of training and cultural exchange. In the first section of this chapter, I briefly examine the roles of women in a number of major and regional conventional conflicts, in uniform, as regular members of standing military formations. In the second section, I briefly examine the role of women in terrorism and low intensity conflict, or non conventional operations. The purpose of this outline is to provide well-documented examples of the actual combat experience of women. This provides a corrective to that construct of combat as an exclusively male or ‘masculine’ activity as discussed in the introduction and theoretical outline. It also provides a basis of comparison for the following chapters on the integration of female personnel to the PDF. The purpose of this chapter is two-fold: It is intended to establish beyond doubt for the reader the precedent of female combatants – in uniform – as a widespread phenomenon. It is also intended that this chapter serve as a context setter for the following chapters on the PDF giving them a wider perspective.