THe Glass Ceiling in the US Military


Being a member of the United States Armed Forces I believe that since entering the service in late 2003, I have personally witnessed the glass ceiling in affect as well as it be nonexistent in numerous situations, positions, and places. The military overall is still primarily made of males, with males making up roughly about 80% of the total military force. With percentages like that it would be easy to see why some military service members would be hesitant if not resistant to women having equal advancement and command opportunities.

In 1948 the Law 625, The Women’s Armed Services Act was signed into effect by President Harry Truman, allowing women to serve in the armed forces in fully integrated units during peacetime. Throughout the following 62 years post Law 625 being passed, women have slowly achieved more and more milestones related with military service. On December 20 1989 Capt Linda L. Bray, 29, became the first woman to command American soldiers in battle. However to the date they still as a whole have not achieved a complete level playing field. As of November 2008 there is only one female currently serving as a 4-star general. So overall it’s been a slow transition for females military speaking.

One of the many reasons that this overall process has been slow is due to the still overall thought and assumption that women cannot perform certain task, and jobs currently performed by males due to physical restrictions and inabilities. Currently, women are not allowed to serve in the United States Marine Corps as an infantryman of any type. Many still have the misguided belief that women don’t have the strength or “guts” to be in a combat unit, that they lack the killer-instinct and the ability to kill if need be. It is widely thought that with today’s given technology and the way current wars are fought that there is absolutely no reason women cannot serve in every capacity allowed or designated to men.

Utilitarianism is the idea that the moral worth of an action is determined solely by its usefulness in maximizing utility/minimizing negative utility, meaning that the moral worth of an action is determined by its outcome. From a Utilitarian standpoint, the allowance of women into every job field and duty currently held by men as well as the allowance to command better the military as a whole. By providing more bodies and personnel for assignment currently held only by males, the frequency and duration of certain assignments could possibly be changed, this benefit than trickles down to reduce hardships possibly felt by families with loved ones abroad for long periods or in dangerous areas. There are few negatives that can be discussed, such as possible unit cohesion issues with female integration into units and duties held prior only by males. Also a certain level of distraction may exist with males and females working in close proximity and relationships can cause unnecessary grief and tension not need on the battlefield.

With a deontological view and it being based around an adherence to rules and regulations some may look at women’s entering into all military capacities as a failure to follow the guidelines currently in place and that in breaking those guidelines may cause undue hardship and unrest as a whole. I believe it would be hard-pressed however, to truly show a greater negative affect than positive in this manner.

In conclusion I believe overall the glass ceiling has and is continuing to disappear, only remaining in select conditions and jobs within the military. As time goes on, though a slow process, I believe women will begin to fully equalize in terms of military service. Let us hope that the majority of us who serve will accept this greater good benefit for all active duty service members.

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