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East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute
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East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute

November 4, 2010
Cultural anthropologist Margie Serrato learns how to properly drink a cup of tea according to Korean customs. Serrato went to South Korea as part of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute (EAPSI) program. Program participants collaborate with scientists from other countries as a way to initiate international scientific projects and expose students to foreign research policies.

More about this Image Serrato, who works in the department of anthropology at Texas A&M University, was interested in understanding the experiences of women in non-traditional roles. While in South Korea for two months as an NSF EAPSI program participant, her plan was to interview female cadets about why they joined the traditionally male military academies and how things have been going for them there. She visited the Army Academy in Seoul and the Navy Academy in Jinhae to obtain more information about the integration of women. She also informally interviewed male cadets to obtain their opinions on women in the academies.

Serrato conducted six lengthy interviews in which she asked the women questions about their motivation for joining and remaining in the academies; their military training, the gender interactions between women and between men and women, and their opinions of how Korean society reacted to female cadets. The results of Serratos interviews found that these women had a difficult time being accepted and treated as equals to the men in the academies. She also found that while their families and friends were supportive of their decision to join, other Koreans were less so.

Although the sample size is too small to make generalizations, it appears that Korean female cadets are experiencing difficulties of gender integration that are similar to what American female cadets experienced when they were allowed into the U.S. military academies in the late 1970s. [Research supported by National Science Foundation grant 07-14482.] (Date of Image: 2007)