Dr Arlene McConville: Military Women and Their Use of Voice in the Workplace
From Barbara Zorn-Arnold on October 11th, 2017
Organizations benefit from the diversity of ideas, and women bring with them fresh sets of ideas in the decision-making process. Therefore, it is important to understand the circumstances in which women are empowered to participate and use their voice in the workplace. According to White (1996), participation gives members of the organization a voice and serves as a way to leverage their ideas in the decision- making of policies and processes that affect them. In line with White’s position, Hirschman (1970) posits that voice is a basic function of the economic, social, and political system. Hirschman (1970) defines voice as an “attempt at all to change, rather than escape from, an objectionable state of affairs” (p. 30). The exit, voice, loyalty theoretical framework has been used in various sectors including government (Whitford & SooYoung, 2015), media (Flew, 2009), and public schools (Bejou, 2012). However, there is scant research attention on the concept and the military community, even less on women’s use of the voice option in the military. Some may view the military as a gendered institution; however, Silva (2008) found that women serving in the military view their experience as a social revolution that transcends women as capable of protecting this country from harm’s way as well as their male counterpart. While women in the military experience a sense of empowerment gained from serving in an institution that is physically and mentally tough, and defying constrictive gender ideology, not everyone is empowered to use her voice. There are a number of factors that affect the use of voice in the workforce. One such factor is organizational tenure. However, there seem to be contradictions in research findings on this issue. This researcher found women in the military with less tenure are more likely to use voice response while more tenured military women use voice response the least, majority opting to exit their current situation. As the military aims to be more inclusive, understanding the relationship between tenure and voice may be a way for organizations to hear more from women employees.
Dr. Arlene McConville is a retired military veteran and an associate professor at Ashford University. She began teaching in higher education after serving twenty years in the U.S. Coast Guard. Dr. McConville earned a Master of Business Administration in Management from Hawaii Pacific University and a Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership from Argosy University. Her research interests are in leadership, motivation, and the military.