Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science


How do women affect conflict dynamics in different ways than men? I examine how expectations based on gender identities impact rebel group strategies, as well as attitudes of foreign publics and political elites toward rebel groups. First, women can substantially contribute to rebel groups' ability to resist governments and maintain their rebellion through unique gendered ways. These include enabling greater tactical diversity, increased appeal to international audiences, and spearheading coup-proofing strategies against intra-organizational factions. Women's contributions to rebel groups are most salient during times of crises and in settings where gender stereotypes are stronger. Second, rebel groups with women participants are more likely to attract foreign support from democratic states. Decisionmakers in democracies can more easily justify supporting gender-diverse rebel organizations to their domestic audiences because people are more likely to be in favor of supporting gender-diverse rebel organizations and are more likely to consider sponsoring such organizations as a moral duty. This support is driven by people's expectations that women militants are less likely to attack civilians. Greater support for gender-diverse groups is also driven by the belief that such support would improve the sponsoring state's reputation in the eyes of the international community. These findings are based on observational evidence on rebel group strength and women membership, survey experiments on people's perceptions of gender-diverse rebel groups, and a qualitative case study of the PKK in Turkey. the results highlight the multifaceted nature of the relationship between gender norms and political violence. These results imply that scholars should take the social identity of the perpetrator group membership into account in analyzing the relationship between political violence and gender equality.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.