Copyright © 2005 Alliance for National Defense. All rights reserved

 

A brief history

Military Women in the Defense Department 1945 - 1997 

 

Women have served with or in the military since the American Revolution. But it was not until World War II that large numbers of women (over 300,000) served and were in all branches of the armed forces. After the war, most women were discharged, but in 1948, Congress passed legislation permitting women to become members of the regular forces and be a permanent presence in the military. The law, however, set a ceiling: no more than two percent of the force could be women. In fact, the percentage remained about only one percent, except during the Korean War when it rose to close to two percent. In 1967, the legal ceiling was removed, but the number of military women did not begin to rise until 1971 and did not increase substantially until the start of the All Volunteer Force in 1973. The number of military women peaked at 232,823 in 1989. For the following eight years, the military's downsizing reduced the number of women, reaching a bottom of 195,609 in 1997. Although the number of women dropped, their proportion of the military continued to rise, reaching 14 percent in 1997.



Chart for: Department of Defense

Female Active Duty Military Personnel

· Number and Percentage of Women in the Defense Department in 1998*

· The Service with the most women is the Army: 71,778.

· The Service with the highest percentage of women is the Air Force: 18%.

· The Service with the fewest women is the Marine Corps: 9,782.

· The Service with the lowest percentage of women is the Marine Corps: 6%.

· *Coast Guard data are not included because it is part of the Department of Transportation.

· Chart for: Active Duty Military Strength: Male/Female for September 1998

 

Minority Representation FY72 and FY97

· In 1972*, the Services with the highest percentage of women who were minorities was the Army and Marine Corps: 20%.

· In 1997, the Service with the highest percentage of women who were minorities was the Army: 55%.

· In 1972, the Service with the lowest percentage of women who were minorities was the Navy: 8%.

· In1997, the Service with the lowest percentage of women who were minorities was the Air Force: 32%.

· Between 1972 and 1997, the percentage of women who were minorities has risen dramatically. In 1972, it ranged from 8% to 20%; in 1997 it ranged from 32% to 55%.

In 1972, the percentage of minorities among men and women was about the same. By 1997, minorities among women had increased substantially more than minorities among men.


* The year before the start of the All Volunteer Force.



Chart for: Department of Defense Female and Male Minorities

 Fiscal Years 1972 and 1997

 

Positions and Occupations Open to Women

· The Service with the highest percentage of positions and occupations open to women is the Coast Guard: 100%.

· The Service with the lowest percentage of positions open to women is the Marine Corps: 62%.

The Service with the lowest percentage of occupations open to women is the Army: 91%



Chart for: Positions and Occupations Open to Women



Defense Required to Report to Congress on Women


The FY-2003 Defense Authorization Bill requires the Defense Department to file annual reports through at least FY-2006 on specific matters related to military women. The required information includes:

· Discussion of the rationale for each position, skill field and weapons system currently closed to women

· Joint assignments for married service members.

· Promotion rates for women and men in grades E-7, E-8 and E-9 and O-5 and O-6.

· Retention rates for women and men in all paygrades.

· Selection rates for women and men to O-6 and O-5 command positions

· Selection rates for O-6 and O-5 females and males to intermediate and senior service schools.

· The extent of assignments of women in all fields in which at least 80 percent of personnel are men.

· Data on sexual harassment complaints.

· Satisfaction, based on surveys, with access and quality of health benefits among female active-duty, reserve and family members entitled to military health care.

 

This requirement was sponsored by Representative Heather Wilson (R-NM), a former Air Force officer and the only woman veteran in Congress. The impetus was the new charter for the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) which for 50 years has assisted and advised the Secretary of Defense on policies and matters relating to women in the military. Past DACOWITS members, including Rep Wilson, expressed concern that the new charter weaken the ability of the group to provide advice to senior Pentagon officials. “It is essential that someone is mindful of the issues that face a woman in the services,” said Rep Wilson to Navy Times and, therefore she inserted language in the bill asking for annual reports on how women are doing. The text of the provision is below.

 

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003, Title V, Subtitle G Sec. 562.

Annual Report on Status of Female Members of the Armed Forces.

 

(a) Requirement for Report- The Secretary of Defense shall submit to Congress, for each of fiscal years 2002 through 2006, a report on the status of female members of the Armed Forces. Information in the annual report shall be shown for the Department of Defense as a whole and separately for each of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

(b) Matters to be Included- The report for a fiscal year under subsection (a) shall include the following information: (1) The positions, weapon systems, and fields of skills for which, by policy, female members are not eligible for assignment, as follows:

 

(A) In the report for fiscal year 2002--

 

           (i) an identification of each position, weapon system, and field of skills for which, by policy,   female members are not eligible; and

 

           (ii) the rationale for the applicability of the policy to each such position, weapon system, and            field.

 

(B) In the report for each fiscal year after fiscal year 2002, the positions, weapon systems, and fields for which policy on the eligibility of female members for assignment has changed during that fiscal year, including a discussion of how the policy has changed and the rationale for the change.

 

 (2) Information on joint spouse assignments, as follows:

 

(A) The number of cases in which members of the Armed Forces married to each other are in assignments to which they were jointly assigned during that fiscal year, as defined in the applicable Department of Defense and military department personnel assignment policies.

(B) The number of cases in which members of the Armed Forces married to each other are in assignments to which they were assigned during that fiscal year, but were not jointly assigned (as so defined).

 

(3) Promotion selection rates for female members, for male members, and for all personnel in the reports submitted by promotion selection boards in that fiscal year for promotion to grades E-7, E-8, and E-9, and, in the case of commissioned officers, promotion to grades O-4, O-5, and O-6.

(4) Retention rates for female members in each grade and for male members in each grade during that fiscal year.

 

(5) Selection rates for female members and for male members for assignment to grade O-6 and grade O-5 command positions in reports of command selection boards that were submitted during that fiscal year.

 

(6) Selection rates for female members and for male members for attendance at intermediate service schools (ISS) and, separately, for attendance at senior service schools (SSS) in reports of selection boards that were submitted during that fiscal year.

 

(7) The extent of assignments of female members during that fiscal year in each field in which at least 80 percent of the Armed Forces personnel assigned in the field are men.

 

(8) The incidence of sexual harassment complaints made during that fiscal year, stated as the number of cases in which complaints of sexual harassment were filed under procedures of military departments that are applicable to the submission of sexual harassment complaints, together with the number and percent of the complaints that were substantiated.

(9) Satisfaction (based on surveys) of female active-duty members, female dependents of active-duty members, and female dependents of non-active duty members entitled to health care provided by the Department of Defense with access to, and quality of, women's health care benefits provided by the Department of Defense.

 

(c) Time for Report- The report for a fiscal year under this section shall be submitted not later than 120 days after the end of that fiscal year.

 

 

Home                                        Contact Us                             Discussion Board