Date of Award

Winter 2022

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

Rebecca Glauber

Second Advisor

Heather A Turner

Third Advisor

Karen T Van Gundy


While the existence of gender discrimination in the Air Force is well known, previous research had not examined how active-duty Air Force members define gender discrimination and how service members differentiate instances of gender discrimination from gender-based harassment. This study drew on qualitative interviews with 25 Air Force service members to provide a rich account of their perceptions of discrimination and harassment. From this research, several common attributes of gender discrimination became clear. Active-duty Air Force women were more aware of instances of gender discrimination than men, participants perceived being a gender minority in the workplace is a risk factor associated with gender discrimination, and women felt that members of the informal “Good Old Boys Club” discriminated by gender more than other Air Force members. Many situations of gender discrimination involved the perception that behavior tied to gender roles (including relationship, parental, and general gender-based roles) conflicted with their occupational role expectations. The study also found that active-duty Air Force members often struggled to delineate between gender discrimination and gender-based harassment, which was caused by murky terminology and definitions provided by Air Force Equal Opportunity doctrine.