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Norway's Radical Military Experiment

How Full Gender Integration Paid Off

Norwegian troops during an exercise in northern Norway, May 2015. NORWEGIAN ARMED FORCES

Two years ago, 19-year-old Mari Gillebo reported for duty as a professional soldier in central Norway. Far from being a minority in her air defense battalion, she had joined a unit that was 50 percent female. And the female soldiers were treated exactly like their male colleagues, even sharing sleeping quarters with them.

Gillebo didn’t mind the mixed-gender bedrooms. Like most Norwegian children, she had grown up doing virtually everything in a coed setting: playing on mixed-gender sports teams and learning woodworking and home economics in secondary school together with both boys and girls. “But I was very skeptical about the 50/50 split,” she told me. “I don’t really like female quotas.” Women should be given positions based on ability, not gender, Gillebo argued.

Gillebo’s battalion, the Norwegian Air and Missile Defense Battalion of the 138th Air Wing at Orland Main Air Station, is an experiment that comes after

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