Skip to main content
Intended for healthcare professionals
Restricted access
Research article
First published online March 6, 2014

Explaining the Variation in Gender Composition of Personnel Contributions to UN Peacekeeping Operations


How do we account for the dearth of female contributions to UN peace operations (UNPOs)? For answers, this study examines conditions that led the United Nations to move to reduce the gender imbalance in UNPO personnel and provides descriptive evidence that points to the continuing underrepresentation of women in these operations. To interpret this evidence, the study presents theoretical explanations for the varying contributions of personnel to UNPOs—including the political and socioeconomic character of the contributing states, international reputations and norms, and various demand-side influences exerted by missions—and then tests these explanations with a cross-sectional time-series model that accounts for female personnel contributions to each mission in the 2010–2011 period. Although offering significant support for domestic political explanations, the findings indicate that gender diversity is not a primary goal of most contributors and is largely a by-product of force sizes.

Get full access to this article

View all access and purchase options for this article.


Kerry F. Crawford received her PhD in political science from the George Washington University in 2014. She will join the Department of Political Science at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA as an assistant professor in fall 2014. Her dissertation research focuses on international political recognition of wartime sexual violence from the mid-1990s through present day; a portion of this research was published in the November 2013 issue of Gender & Development. Additional research interests include women in peacekeeping, gender matters in international relations, and civilian casualties in international military interventions.
James H. Lebovic is a professor of political science and international affairs at the George Washington University. He holds a PhD in international relations from the University of Southern California. He has published widely on defense policy, deterrence strategy, military budgets and procurement, democracy and human rights, and international conflict. He is the author of five books including Deterring International Terrorism and Rogue States: U.S. National Security Policy after 9/11 (Routledge, 2007), The Limits of U.S. Military Capability: Lessons from Vietnam and Iraq (Johns Hopkins University, 2010), and Flawed Logics: Strategic Nuclear Arms Control from Truman to Obama (Johns Hopkins University, 2013).
Julia M. Macdonald is a fifth-year doctoral candidate in political science at the George Washington University and PhD candidate-in-residence at the Institute for Security and Conflict Studies in the Elliott School of International Affairs. Julia's current research focuses on signaling and threat credibility during international crises. Her dissertation investigates the importance of varying domestic political environments in shaping leaders' assessments of threat. Additional research interests include gender and peacekeeping, military strategy and effectiveness, and U.S. foreign policy decision making. Julia will be a Stanton Nuclear Security Pre-doctoral Fellow in the Security Studies Program at MIT during the 2014-15 academic year.

Cite article

Cite article

Cite article


Download to reference manager

If you have citation software installed, you can download article citation data to the citation manager of your choice

Share options


Share this article

Share with email

Share access to this article

Sharing links are not relevant where the article is open access and not available if you do not have a subscription.

For more information view the Sage Journals article sharing page.

Information, rights and permissions


Published In

Article first published online: March 6, 2014
Issue published: April 2015


  1. peacekeeping
  2. gender
  3. United Nations

Rights and permissions

© The Author(s) 2014.
Request permissions for this article.


Published online: March 6, 2014
Issue published: April 2015



Kerry F. Crawford
Department of Political Science, the George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA
James H. Lebovic
Department of Political Science, the George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA
Julia M. Macdonald
Department of Political Science, the George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA


James H. Lebovic, Department of Political Science, the George Washington University, Monroe Hall, Room 473, 2115 G. Street NW, Washington, DC 20052, USA. Email: [email protected]

Metrics and citations


Journals metrics

This article was published in Armed Forces & Society.


Article usage*

Total views and downloads: 1105

*Article usage tracking started in December 2016


See the impact this article is making through the number of times it’s been read, and the Altmetric Score.
Learn more about the Altmetric Scores

Articles citing this one

Web of Science: 9 view articles Opens in new tab

Crossref: 8

  1. Desire to serve: Insights from Canadian defence studies on the factors...
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  2. Proactive and reactive responses to pregnancies resulting from sexual ...
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  3. Assessing progress on women’s inclusion in peacekeeping in Latin Ameri...
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  4. Women in uniform: the opening of combat roles in state militaries
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  5. Ideology and UN Responsiveness to Sexual Violence
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  6. When are Women Deployed? Operational Uncertainty and Deployment of Fem...
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  7. The known knowns and known unknowns of peacekeeping data
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  8. Explaining sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping missions...
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar

Figures and tables

Figures & Media


View Options

Get access

Access options

If you have access to journal content via a personal subscription, university, library, employer or society, select from the options below:

IUS members can access this journal content using society membership credentials.

IUS members can access this journal content using society membership credentials.

Alternatively, view purchase options below:

Purchase 24 hour online access to view and download content.

Access journal content via a DeepDyve subscription or find out more about this option.

View options


View PDF/ePub

Full Text

View Full Text