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April 16, 2024

Lifted ban broadens career choices

February 7, 2013

The Department of Defense (DOD) recently lifted a near 20-year ban on women serving in combat roles in the armed forces. For female cadets in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) here at Hopkins, this change of policy means more jobs to choose from upon graduation.

This page believes that this policy change is a positive development and commends the DOD for its decision.

Allowing women to officially serve in combat roles is long overdue and this formality rightly acknowledges the equal contribution women soldiers make to national defense. The change of policy represents the shattering of the brass ceiling in the armed forces and opens up a variety of opportunities for women. If inequality in the workplace ought not to exist in corporate America, it ought not to exist in America’s military either.

This policy change will also benefit the overall strength and capability of the armed forces. Recruiting efforts, which have long been predominantly targeted at men, will now focus on women also. This means a larger, more diverse and more capable military. Many women already serving in the military have received the highest of honors, and forbidding these talented women from officially standing a post on the front line is not only unfair, it is also injurious to America’s military strength.

The lifting of the ban benefits cadets in the Hopkins ROTC program, too. Jobs that were previously forbidden to women are now open. With a wider choice of career options, graduating officers will be able to choose from a larger selection of jobs and those women contemplating joining ROTC might now be more willing to serve. The decision not only affects the lines of the battle field, but also how women are portrayed in the military and what stereotypes they face about their capabilities. For example, a woman in the infantry need not necessarily haul heavy loads for hours on end. There are other avenues she can pursue within that branch that allow her to play to certain strengths which may not necessarily be her ability to lift.

Although these changes are now officially codified, it’s necessary to note that women have been serving on the front lines for years, and many have died and have been wounded in combat. To this end, this policy change will not overhaul military practice. But at least we’ve finally come to admit that a policy which forbids women from following their dreams, simply because that dream might be dangerous, is not a policy worth enforcing.

Despite the progress that this step represents, many misconceptions, still exist as to what lifting of the ban actually means for national defense and how this affects the logistics of combat and a woman’s place on the front lines. It is necessary for the DOD to clarify and enumerate the nuances to the opportunities offered.

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