We must reiterate the importance of a multimethod research approach for a balanced assessment. We used focus groups to probe for gender issues and developed a rich understanding of gender issues that exist in newly integrated units and units with newly integrated occupations. However, the interviews and surveys were invaluable in placing those explanations of gender issues into the larger context of readiness, cohesion, and morale. Had we just depended upon focus groups, we would likely have drawn more negative conclusions about the impact of gender integration in these units. Likewise, had we depended solely upon the survey data, we would have concluded that gender was not an issue in these units at all. In concert, all data sources offered a greater context and indicated that gender issues are just one aspect, and indeed a relatively minor aspect, of readiness, cohesion, and morale.
We must also point out that, on a number of questionnaire items for which gender first appeared to be significant, the difference was in fact due to grade. Misperceptions about gender relations may occur, then, because women are often concentrated in the junior enlisted grades. This finding has implications for anyone making judgments about gender, based on casual observations of units. In many locations, there were very few, if any, women in the senior enlisted or officer grades. Therefore, unit members may perceive the opinions of junior enlisted women as representing the opinion of women in general, but actually they may more accurately reflect the perspective of the junior enlisted.