By Debbie Gregory.
Today, feminism is stronger than ever. Companies, such as Proctor & Gamble, have started campaigns to tackle the stereotypes that commonly associate women as being the weaker sex. The Always “Like a girl” campaign asks why “run, fight, or throw like a girl,” can’t mean, “Run like a girl and win the race?”
This stereotype for women being weaker is prominent in the armed forces. Surveys found that men in U.S. special operations forces do not believe women can meet the physical and mental demands of their commando jobs. They also expressed concerns that the Pentagon would lower standards to integrate women into their elite units.
However, not all men agreed, and not all women disagreed. The studies found major misconceptions within the special operations as to whether women should be brought into these former male-only jobs.
The U.S. Special Operations Command consists of more than 68,000 people, including 3,000 civilians. The main survey went to around 18,000 people who are in positions not available to women, with approximately half of them completing the survey.
Another survey revealed concerns that if they were allowed into special ops positions, women could be treated more harshly, or unequally. Additionally, there were concerns that they would be subject to increased sexual harassment or assaults.
The ban on women in combat jobs was lifted in 2012, and slowly integrated women into male-only front-line positions. It is expected that all combat jobs will be open to women by January, 2016. If the positions are not open, an explanation must be written as to why they are not open.
Positions within the Special Ops, including the clandestine Navy SEAL and Army Delta units, are considered to be the most grueling and difficult jobs in the military. Training and qualifying courses push troops to their every limit.
Defense officials have stressed that they will not reduce standards in order for women to become eligible for these positions. The reaction from women integrating into more demanding combat positions, which even men find difficult qualifying for, have been mixed.
As of now, approximately 7,000 positions within special operations forces have been opened to women. One woman made it through training to become a pilot in the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, a specialized unit used to fly forces fast, low, and deep behind enemy lines at night. There are currently three female pilots and 41 other women going through training for the helicopter crews, knows as Night Stalkers.
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Military Connection: Can Women Work in Special Forces?: By Debbie Gregory