Posted by: heathernoffsinger | February 4, 2016

Female Representation in the Army

After some of the discussions that we have had in class I decided to look into how females are represented in the army. Through my research I found that women are now eligible to sign up for combat positions that were previously banned for women. During my search I found an article about one of the first few women who signed on for an engineering job. This job was one of the more dangerous positions  as she would be on the front lines and in combat, but Erika Lopez was up for the challenge.

This decision to take on such a high risk position is one that shows leadership in various ways. It demonstrates leadership because she was putting her country before her self by deciding to serve. She was a role model to her young sons whom she would be leaving behind. She was a trail blazer for women everywhere because she was taking on a job that was designed for men but would prove that she could handle the work as well as the boys.

In the article however, their main focus was about how much Erika was sacrificing by leaving her children. Why was this such a concern when male soldiers are often away from their children and fighting on the front lines? Why is the female officer given more recognition for having children than for her skill set or what her new job might entail?

Here is a link to the article and picture of Erika Lopez after she signed up for the engineering position.



  1. This is so interesting. It reminds me of what we read about critics of Sarah Palin on either side of the aisle criticizing her for leaving her family to run for VP. Considering our spouses can also and generally are equally as responsible for raising our children as we are, it is surprising that women are the ones who generally receive the most scrutiny in this area.

    • Morgan, I was just thinking the same thing. I remember the article we read about Sarah Palin and was surprised how big of a deal they made about her family “needing” her. As someone who has had a dad that served 18 months in Georgia, I would say that it would be equally painful to have a mom or a dad pulled and sent somewhere far away. If we view spouses as equal, why is this such a big deal? Let’s do the fun activity of turning this into Erick Lopez, a male engineer, who has chosen this opportunity to serve his country. Erick has two small boys at home, along with a wife who he loves dearly. This happens everyday, why is there just not the same significance? Is it a scrutiny of the mother for leaving her children or is it a concern for the mother as she leaves her children? So interesting!

  2. This is an awesome topic! I remember hearing the news story a couple of years ago about how women were now allowed to fight in combat and was shocked that that was a ban that even needed to be lifted. I feel very fortunate to have grown up as a empowered girl who had it drilled into me that I can do anything and so I believed so. I was very taken aback to learn that women in fact could not do anything.

  3. It is great to hear about progress that has been made, because I think we often get tied up in the long way that we still have to go However, this may relate to the concept of the thin glass ceiling that we now have, due to the thousands of women that went before us, cracking it little by little. I think back to the Revolutionary/Civil Wars, when women would sometimes hide their identity dress up as men just to be allowed to serve their country. This woman is clearly pioneering, and is slowly shifting the standard little by little. Whether that was her intention, or she was just trying to follow her ambition and serve in the best way she could, either way she is a leader. However, it is disappointing that we will always feel like women are sacrificing as mothers when they pick a career that takes them from their children. This woman may very well have a partner that volunteers to stay at home, and is more than capable of caring for the children. This demonstrates the pull in two directions that women often face, and shows an area where we can still make progress.

  4. I really enjoyed learning about this! I think this is a great picture of progress. I like the quote at the beginning where the articles talks about the things we sometimes learn often catch us by surprise. I think we truly don’t realize that we’ve learned something or come a different way with an idea until we’ve caught ourselves saying, “oh that’s different” or “oh, that’s never been seen before.” I think this woman is being a great example to her kids and to her family and friends. She’s doing discipline and love for her nation, as well as her family by finding a way to better herself and provide. I’m sure she’s inspired many others in the countless ways that she is showing leadership.

    • It is true that this is a great picture of progress, however, there is a difference between there being an opportunity available and women to take advantage of those opportunities. This is the same kind of problem that is currently facing the STEM field, where the technicalities have opened the door to women but in reality there are few women who want to step into these roles at this time. Time will only tell if more women, like Ericka, step up and serve their country. Taking it a step further, would women be comfortable entering the draft upon their 18th birthday, like their male counterparts?

  5. First, I want to note that I was excited to see this post because I feel that women’s leadership in the military realm is a research topic that needs much more expansion and conversation.I had no idea that women were ineligible to sign up for specific combat positions. Only to the fault of myself did I assume that men and women had equal rights to military service opportunities in the military, especially in the 21st century. Of course I was aware that sexism was alive and well in the military branches within the United States, but I thought we had equal rights ordained by constituted laws upon service capabilities. This was disheartening to find out. But hey, at least we are now eligible to serve in a country in which we live and thrive.
    I am amazed on a daily basis by the difficult feats women overcome in society. Erika Lopez is no exception. As you noted, she was a self-sacrificer, role model, and trailblazer. She entered into a vocation that had the potential for high risk, as she would be on the front lines of military combat. I would like to believe she took up arms in order to prove that not only she, but also all women, had the ability to handle tough situations, just the way a man could. She was willing to sacrifice her life for the greater cause: women’s empowerment. It is people like Erika that are pushing through the labyrinth and coming out the other side.
    The fact that the article about Erika focused on her having children doesn’t upset me because having children is a very important part of life, and it’s amazing that she is sacrificing her time with her babies in order to benefit the greater good. I just wish the article equally spoke about her career in the military and her home life. Both aspect of her life are defining, not just the one that is linked to a feminine ideal of herself.

  6. I loved that you brought this into the conversation as women are still unable to access all positions in our military. I’m not sure if you are familiar with the army rangers and the two women who recently passed the course to become this revered position. The shocking thing is although they passed the course, they haven’t been able to serve yet, even though they have the formal title. There are many men claiming that the standards of the test were lowered to accommodate the “inferior” women. It brings up the point that there is still sexism at play. I would love to hear your position on biological differences and abilities and if this really plays a difference in the military.

  7. I was actually also going to relate this to the recent changes in the army ranger requirements for women, which has become a sticky subject to say the least.
    I know a lot of men in the military who are absolutely appalled by the fact that they allow women of a “lower caliber” into one of the most difficult specialty teams in the US military.
    I obviously completely believe that all genders should be equal and that women should get all of the same opportunities as men.
    However, based on the bombardment of opinions I have heard from men in my family, they are worried that a woman will not physically be able to keep up in combat since they physical requirements are different than the men’s.
    I could go on about this topic forever, but this is a really controversial topic also addressing the issue of true equality in the labor force as well.

  8. I have heard several stories like this one. The female crew members for the possible one way trip to Mars are getting the same recognition and are being asked the same questions of how they can just leave their families behind. I think we should give them the choice weather or not to leave and show them the same respect we show the men who leave their families. This article and others like it showcases the bias against women in the media and how the media influences the ideal picture of leadership.

  9. I come from a long line of military men and women, and it’s always a sad thing to see them go for so long. And even though the men do leave their children behind as well, I would argue that it is tougher for a women to do so. Often times it seems that a maternal bond is stronger than a paternal bond.

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