21 May 2017

Women Are Present, But Rare, In Formerly All Male Army Specialties

In 2010, 14.1% of enlisted active duty military personnel and 16.4% of officers, were women. 

Right now, less than 0.5% of women joining the U.S. Army are in specialties, like infantry, armor and the Rangers, which were reserved for men until 2015, and while the numbers will grow, they probably won't ever be terribly high, so long as raw physical strength and fitness (as well as extreme aggression in some cases) remain important qualifications for those positions. But, some women are taking on those positions according to the same standards as the men seeking to fill those posts.

Rough gender equality in positions calling mostly for physical strength is always going to be a literary trope of the science fiction and fantasy genre (because a female warrior is an intriguing character for both male and female readers), and not reality. On the other hand, we have already reached a point where traits in which women are at a severe disadvantage are critical only in posts which make up a minority of the posts in the active duty military. 
There were 48 women trainees who arrived at Fort Benning in February, and 32 of them were deemed ready to attempt basic training without any additional physical training. The 18 graduates were among those 32 soldiers. 
There were 148 men who started the class, and 119 of them graduated. . . . [Ed. women made up 22% of those who actually started and 13% of the graduates; 50% of the women failed to make it through basic training after starting, while 20% of the men failed to do so. In addition, a third of the women who applied and an unknown (but surely smaller) percentage of the men who applied, weren't physically fit enough to begin the program.]
The integrated training of men and women soldiers has played out at the Maneuver Center of Excellence in a public way since early 2015 when 19 women became the first soldiers to attend Ranger School, the Army's most demanding combat arms training. 
Capt. Kristen Griest, then assigned to military police, and Capt. Shaye Haver, an Apache helicopter pilot, became the first women to earn the Ranger tab in August 2015. Maj. Lisa Jaster completed the training two months later. 
A year ago, the first women to attended the basic officer leadership courses reported to Fort Benning to begin the integration of the officer ranks in Armor and Infantry. In October 2016, 10 women graduated the Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course, the in December 2016, another 10 women graduated the Armor Basic Officer Leadership Course, becoming first lieutenants. 
"We started with leaders first," Kendrick said. "We have female company commanders out in the formation now. We have graduated lieutenants, I saw some of them out there this morning. We have produced four NCOs who have changed their MOS that have proceeded the privates. So, what you have here is the last step in producing soldiers that will be part of those formations ... for integration here." . . .
Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, commander of Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, who is not surprised that the number of women completing these initial integrated courses is small. 
"We never anticipated to see a significant influx into the combat arms," Snow said. "The research indicated that the majority of the women will still go into non-combat positions. But what it did do for us -- and believe this in my heart of hearts -- it caused women to look at the Army in a different light and say, 'Hmm, it's now a level playing field.' So even though they didn't go into combat arms, we had a good year in 2016. We had 14,000 women make the decision to join the regular Army and Army Reserves. That was the best year in 10 years from a percentage perspective, and I think we are on track to do the same thing this year." 
Women failing to meet the standard than men by percentage is not surprising, said Kendrick, who offered an explanation. 
"Most of female trainees are on the lower scale of height and weight -- 5-foot-3, 5-foot-4, 5-foot-2, 5-foot, 120 pounds, 100 pounds -- our physical requirements are not altered for any percentage of body weight," Kendrick said. "They carry the same load as everybody else. What we find is when you have a smaller, skinnier person -- frail, I guess would be a word -- those physical requirements are very difficult." 
Currently, there are about 100 women either training or in the pipeline to do infantry basic training at Fort Benning, Snow said. The publicity generated from the first class to graduate should help increase that number, Snow said.
From Military.com.

A typical enlisted soldier, of either gender, is an eighteen or nineteen year old, who recently graduated from high school, who wasn't an obvious candidate to be college bound, but was in the middle 50% of their high school class, and a high school athlete. A decision to not just enlist, but to pursue a speciality in a combat arm like the infantry, is an incredibly bold move for a young woman.

According to Pew, within the military there are three categories of specialties that are more common for women than men (in parenthesis): 30% (12%) of women have administrative specialties, 15% (6%) are in medical specialties, 14% (12%) are in supply specialties. In addition 18% (31%) are in electrical or electronic specialties, 10% (10%) have communications specialties, 5% (7%) are craftsmen or in other technical specialties, 3% (19%) are in infantry, gun crews or seamen specialties, and 5% (5%) are in non-occupational roles.

This isn't necessary a bad thing for women in the military. Almost all of their jobs have relatively close civilian analogs. A much larger share of men are being trained in specialties with no civilian equivalent.

Like men, about half of women in military service are married. But, unlike men, about half of women in the military who are married, are married to someone else in the military.

No comments: