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.


This chapter deals with the deployment of women throughout the Defence Forces over its primary (combat) and secondary (support) roles. It is intended on this basis to establish whether or not a gender division of labour exists within the PDF. It is intended to examine this phenomenon through an examination of PDF policy on deployment at home and abroad, and the Defence Forces Board Report on policy for the deployment of female personnel. This documentary analysis of PDF policies is complemented by a simple analysis of deployment statistics provided by enlisted personnel section at DFHQ. These statistics are then reviewed in light of a number of audits of the work carried out by female personnel of the PDF. These audits were carried out in two main phases, April 1997 and October 1999. These audits allow for an analysis of the de facto deployment of female personnel on the ground. The fact that the audits took place two and a half years apart allows for a simple analysis of any change in the pattern of women’s deployment, over the period of the study. This chapter on deployment explores the scope and range of military “experience” (Reskin and Padavic 1994) assigned women by the military authorities. In assessing this aspect of PDF culture, use has been made of documentary and archival material in discussing policies on the deployment of female troops (other ranks and officers). The documentary material examined also extends to a detailed treatment of PDF policies, practices and aspirations in the area of the deployment of women soldiers at home and overseas. There is a consideration of the law in relation to these policies in the section on ‘legal aspects’. This discussion of the deployment of female personnel in light of the law, functions in parallel with chapters four and nine, in situating the study within the context of the aspirations, policies and practices outside of the setting. It gives the chapter a wider perspective. The chapter concludes with a summary of the findings generated by the data. There is also much use made of the data gathered by interview revealing women’s attitudes and insights to the deployment policies and practices of the military authorities.