Posted by: bethanys11 | February 19, 2014

Women in the Military

            I came upon this post while scrolling through facebook one day.  It is a rather intriguing post and I was quite surprised that some of these statistics and occurrences are an issue in today’s society.  This article was written after interviewing “a twenty-year Navy veteran who traveled the world and raised a child while in the service.”  This woman was referred to in the article as Donna Noble -though this is not her real name.  Throughout this article, Noble and another woman, Sara Ohlms share the struggles of a woman in the military.  Though these struggles might not be the same for every woman in combat, both of these women personally experienced this going on around them.

      One of the first struggles these women described is that often times, women are expected to perform sexual favors to get ahead.  Noble personally experienced a superior officer offering to give her a “better review” if she would be his “date”.  Though statistics say that more than 15% of women have experienced this, Noble was one of few women who have spoken up due to the hassle of reporting such an incident.  The next struggle Noble and Ohlms described is that women get the ill fitting, sometime faulty equipment due to the fact that this equipment was ultimately created for men to wear.  When Ohlms pointed these problems out, she was told, “You wanted to join – Why should we change for you?”  Some of the other problems involve military doctors not knowing how to deal with women’s medical issues, recruiters and fellow officers lying to you, and finally, “the attempts to deal with sexual assault are laughably outdated.”  The last issue, in itself, is enough to hold women back from joining America’s armed forces.  I am appalled by these issues and can imagine that Noble not only dealing with the issues at hand, but also raising a child felt much of the guilt the women we have read about do regarding leaving a child at home to provide for them.

     In our readings, we have explored the concept of women struggling to obtain high-level positions.  I would say a woman in the military is an incredibly high-level position, yet this is often the place where gender-stereotyping and bias is not only accepted, but also encouraged.  Ohlms was quoted as saying:  “The problem with the current status of women in the military is that it is about the last place that it is totally cool to discriminate based on gender.”  This quote led me to think about the most recent reading, which spoke about statistics showing the military is about the only place where male leaders are preferred over female leaders.  This article has me thinking, if these are the standards that we set for the men and women protecting our country, how can we end gender discrimination in every day situations whether it be in politics, large corporations, or even in the classroom.

     I’m interested to hear everyone’s input, because though this is a generalization and there are most definitely more men in the military that are of upstanding character and morals than men who act like this, these are very real problems that women (leaders) in the military face.

I have also included the link:


  1. I’m not sure how reliable this source is, is a humor website but this article seems to be sourced pretty well and has research to back up what it’s saying. I think this article opens up the discussion that women are not being given the tools and resources to be empowered in the military and to reach those higher leadership positions within the military. I think the point that most supports this is the one about how many military doctors are not trained in women’s health issues. I think that’s a huge issues in itself because these are doctors, they should most certainly be well versed in both men’s and women’s health, especially if they’re going to enter into what could potentially be a disaster situation. I wonder how many cases of rape and sexual assault in the military actually go reported and I wonder how much of it has to do with inadequate medical assistance? I feel that a woman may be afraid or nervous about going to a doctor that doesn’t seem to know or care too much about women’s health.

    Another thing I find interesting is the quote “You wanted to join – why should we change for you?” I think this can be applied to women trying to enter leadership positions and make change in a variety of fields, especially politics. I think a lot of places don’t want to be accommodating to women because of that point; many people don’t think things, sexism, discrimination, are “broken” so they won’t fix it, because it works for them.

  2. Military, maybe for better reasons than other positions, has a strong ‘male’ connotation. The military requires a very specific type of person, the physical strain on their bodies and confrontational tactics have always been seen as what ‘males’ do best. I understand that as women begin to integrate into these roles, there are going to be some aspects that they cannot fit right into. With that being said, the majority or this article presented problems that do not just apply to army obstacles. There is NO excuse for problems like these to arise for women, or anyone for that matter. Being confronted by officers to promote themselves any way other than professionally is unacceptable.
    As my classmate said, I think the part about the doctors not knowing how to treat women illness is ridiculous. Doctors spend years of their life being trained and going through school, there is no reason that they shouldn’t be just as capable of helping female as male patients. Not only does this discriminate women and show that the military are lacking behind in truly incorporating women into the field, it is potentially life threatening. For something so serious I can’t believe that is not the first thing to be transformed.

  3. My sister is in the Army and she has been in there for about three years. During boot camp she had to make sure she could hold her own. Not only did she have to do better than all the females but she also had to do just as well as all the men. Even though she’s had her job for a few years now there are still moments when she has had males who are the same rank or below her tell her what to do. She told me about one time one of her co-workers tried to tell her what to do and talked down to her like she was less than he was. One of their superiors saw this and stepped in and explained how my sister knew what her job was and if anyone was going to correct her it would be him. May sister doesn’t let it get to her, she just does what she is supposed to do and ignores anyone who tries to act like they know more. I don’t know of any situations where someone has tried to take advantage of her because her husband is in the military too, but it is obvious she has a harder time because she is a female. But even so, she doesn’t let her gender define how well she does her job which is what I think all women, in any field, have to do.

  4. I found this post very interesting. It’s easy to spot the double bind that women face within the military, since it is traditionally seen as a masculine career path. I can understand how difficult it may be to micromanage one’s self within this context if put into that situation.

    I feel it would be difficult to manage this double standard due to the stress internally and externally. From managing one’s self image to managing the expectations and pressure from her fellow soldiers, this position may inhibit the success of those involved; however, I give credit to the women working to break that gender stereotype! Through these pressures and stresses, there are women who work through their labyrinth and get to the finish line, establishing a positive outlook for women within the military.

  5. I really liked your post. There is a clear double standard for men and women in the military. Women face more challenges than men and it doesn’t have to be that way. I was talking with a woman from work who had left the navy and now works for the federal government, and she was saying how sorry she felt for female leaders in the military. She said that a lot of the higher up female officers don’t have families the way the males do. At promotion ceremonies, the men are there with their wife and all of their kids and grandkids. But when the women get promoted, it is often just them and a few other people. Many times they aren’t married or don’t have kids because it is too much of a career sacrifice. The woman said it was sad because they are great leaders and have had great careers, but the price the paid for it all was so high.

    I think in a lot of ways some of this will change in the military, whether it is over time or through policy changes. It will be one of the last institutions to change and I don’t think they will occur smoothly. And some institutions within the military will probably never change. Is that wrong? It is extremely unlikely that women will ever be allowed in special forces. A lot of this is because they can’t meet the physical training requirements. I don’t think that this is wrong because war demands that you be able to meet specific physical demands. Many of the men fail at the training too because they aren’t strong enough. I think that you could let the women try for the position based on gender neutral standards, all the while knowing the unlikelihood.

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