Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Women in the armed forces: Then and now

I have chosen several texts based on woman working in the American armed forces during the early eighties and today.

The following website: explores called "Feminism and Women's Studies" focuses and explores various feminist views on topics of interest and gives insightful information into what it is to be a feminist. The particular article I found interesting is under "Facts about women in the military" during the 1980s and 90s.
It states that women's presence within the army became much greater when the male draft ended in 1973, signalling the introduction of the "All Volunteer Force", to which the overall percentage of women in the armed forces increased from 1.6 percent, to 8.5 in 1980, and 10.8 percent by 1989.

The site also says that "In the United States, women in the military are thoroughly integrated into combat support roles and the services depend upon the capabilities of women." I think this point leans towards the concept of gender roles, and would appear to mask this under the word "capabilities". Surely there are few positions within the army that only men are capable of fulfilling where women could not? And if there are valid reasons for this, they are not listed.
It also points out that there are no laws prohibiting women from serving in combat, however there are laws preventing them from having permanent assignments in several divisions, namely the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force.

The website claims that women's roles within the armed forces are further restricted by policies prohibiting women in from "being assigned to positions necessary or advantageous to advancement and promotion." I personally am very skeptical of this point as I do not think that a person's gender would be a a strong foundation for not allowing them to move to a higher position, even if they outperformed men of the same rank.
According to the website, overall today 50 percent of military jobs are open to women, however these statistics vary by service. It then goes on to provide some percentages to the proportions of jobs open to women in the U.S military service. These are provided by NORC survey results (National Opinion Research Center), and are dated to 1983.
The site continues to provide us with facts and figures as to women's presence within the armed forces, and throughout each comparison that is made between the numbers of men and women that make up the overall recruits, it is clear that men largely dominate every sector.

The second website I've looked at provides a brief history of women's presence within the armed forces that I found informative and interesting which can be found here:
And from the same website, a timeline that also provided some historical information from the 1950s can be found here:
However my main point of focus is of women in the U.S army today, which can be found here:
This I found to be as a not so different contrast to the aformentioned glance back at the last 20 or so years. The statistics of women's presence within the armed forces has not increased very dramatically, despite the fact that more positions have become available to women, following the 1994 DoD assignment rules that allowed for these changes to be made, and have since been followed up to allow 70 percent of positions to be made available for women to get into.

The fact that women's overall presence within the armed forces has increased little over 10 percent in the last 20 years I found to be unusual as I would have expected that with more positions being made available, there would have been a more avid feminine interest, however this would not appear to be the case. One possible reason for this could be the appeal or promotion of the armed services in the way that they are aimed at women.

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