The social origins of female combatants

Jakana L. Thomas, Reed Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


We investigate the factors that lead some rebel organizations to deploy women in combat roles while others restrict women’s participation to non-combat roles or exclude them entirely. Our argument focuses on the influence of the scope and frequency of women’s prior participation in social, political, and economic activities on groups’ decisions to employ women in combat roles and women’s desire to pursue such roles when they are made available. We evaluate our hypotheses using a new dataset on women’s combat participation in rebel movements active from 1979 to 2009. Our results provide support for our central hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-232
Number of pages18
JournalConflict Management and Peace Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2018


  • Civil war
  • female combatants
  • gender and conflict
  • rebellion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Political Science and International Relations


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