‘War-fighting and left-wing feminist agendas’: gender and change in the Australian Defence Force

Benjamin Wadham, Donna Bridges, Anuradha Mundkur, James Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Western military institutions are reforming to enhance gender inclusion. This imperative is driven by the need to sustain a volunteer force in a society with rapidly changing values coupled with a recognition that sustainability and legitimacy requires diverse representation from the community from which they draw their human resources. Our recent research has considered the changing character of the Australian Defence Force (ADF)’s disposition towards women, and discourse of gender and gender reform. In this paper we critically evaluate these discourses on gender equality across the ADF and outline the salient ideas and claims within institutional reviews and in academic papers written by ADF soldier–scholars. Our purpose is to interrogate current ways of framing and articulating key ideas on gender, sexuality, and equality to scrutinize the implications for the ADF’s stated purpose of creating a gender-inclusive workplace. We find that the driving functional imperative of military effectiveness limits and shapes the extent to which the ADF can become a genuinely gender-inclusive workplace.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-280
Number of pages17
JournalCritical Military Studies
Issue number3
Early online date2016
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2018


  • Australian Defence Force
  • gender equality
  • left wing feminism
  • military misconduct
  • sameness/difference
  • sexuality
  • women in combat
  • women in the military


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