Today in a groundbreaking move, Leon Panetta announced that the military ban on women in combat would be lifted, opening thousands of front line positions to women.
“From the push-ups and drills of basic training onward, I busted my ass to keep up with the men so they had no reason to give me grief over my gender,” says Sergeant Rebekah Havrilla, who spent a year in Afghanistan defusing bombs. “But I was the only female on my team and had to fend off sexual, emotional, and verbal abuse every day.”…“Opening more military jobs to women could help address the rampant problem of sexual assault,” says Nancy Duff Campbell, copresident of the Washington-based National Women’s Law Center. “We know from experience in other nontraditional employment environments—for example, with women police and firefighters—that when their members hit critical mass, incidents of sexual harassment declined.”
Besides creating a level playing field by opening up ground combat to women, another benefit in allowing women to fulfill combat roles relates to the issue of promotions. The quickest way to ascend through military ranks is to do well in combat-related missions. Since women aren’t supposed to participate in such missions, it remains difficult for them to earn promotions similar to those of their men colleagues.