Women in the Military

November 13, 2009 • Volume 19, Issue 40
Should combat roles be fully opened to women?
By Marcia Clemmitt


Gen. Anne E. Dunwoody, nation's first female four-star general (AFP/Getty Images/Kris Connor)
Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody, a master parachutist and supply specialist, broke through the so-called brass ceiling in 2008, when she became the nation's first female four-star general. Women, who comprise 14 percent of the U.S. military, make up 15 percent of the officer corps. (AFP/Getty Images/Kris Connor)

The number of women serving in the military has reached historic highs in the past decade, with women now representing more than 14 percent of the total force. In 2008, Ann E. Dunwoody, the Army's top supply officer, became the first female four-star general. This fall the Army tapped Sgt. Maj. Teresa L. King to head its ultra-tough drill-sergeant training program, the first woman to hold the post. At the same time, controversy swirls around the under-the-table recruitment of Army and Marine women into some ground-combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan — which is contrary to official military policy — as well as the Navy's plans to add women to submarine crews. Advocates of continuing to bar women from those jobs argue that sexual tensions and mistrust harmful to the military mission inevitably accompany gender-integration of combat teams. Meanwhile, women vets are suffering high levels of post-traumatic stress disorder and homelessness.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Women's Rights
Apr. 03, 2020  The Equal Rights Amendment
Apr. 17, 2015  Girls' Rights
Apr. 03, 2012  Women's Rights
Nov. 13, 2009  Women in the Military
May 2008  Women's Rights
Mar. 21, 2008  Women in Politics
Feb. 28, 1997  Feminism's Future
Oct. 13, 1989  Should Women Be Allowed into Combat?
Jul. 28, 1989  Do Pregnant Women Lose Legal Rights?
Sep. 17, 1982  Women and Politics
Dec. 15, 1978  Equal Rights Fight
Jun. 23, 1978  The Rights Revolution
Jun. 13, 1975  International Women's Year
Jul. 05, 1973  Women's Consciousness Raising
Oct. 11, 1972  Women Voters
Aug. 05, 1970  Status of Women
Feb. 20, 1956  Women in Politics
Jan. 24, 1951  Womanpower in Mobilization
Apr. 04, 1946  Equal Rights Amendment
May 31, 1927  The Woman's Vote in National Elections
Women in the Military