In this article, we look at some of the pros and cons of joining the military as a woman. In 2022, about 16% of the entire US military were women and were on active duty.
The highest-ranking female officer currently is General Jacqueline Van Ovost; she is the commander of U.S. transportation command.
Other top female military officers you can use as a role model or source of inspiration include General Lori J. Robinson, who was the first female commander of the United States Pacific Air Forces, Admiral Michelle Howard – the first female four-star admiral in the United States Navy, and Lieutenant General Claudia J. Kennedy – the first female commander of U.S Air Force Materiel Command.
There are many challenges women face while serving in the military, as we will see later in this article; Still, there are benefits that women enjoy and this is why women continue to serve in the military in record numbers.
Pros and Cons of Joining the Military as a Woman
In this section, we go straight into the pros and cons of joining the military as a woman. We begin with the advantages and then move into the downsides.
Access to Support Services
There are lots of support services offered by the military to both men and women serving in the military. These support services include family assistance programs, counseling, mental health services, etc.
These support services are instrumental in helping women navigate the various challenges that come with serving in the military and ensure they are in a good physical and mental state.
Discipline and Structure
The perfect way to become disciplined and be able to structure your life is to join the military. Women in the military are put through several trainings that make them better at time management, paying attention to detail, and adhering to standards.
Life in the military exposes women to various challenges and experiences that often help women to discover their inner resilience, self-confidence, adaptability, and other attributes that boost their capabilities in all areas of life.
After you serve in the military for a certain number of years, the military offers you retirement benefits that include a pension. With this pension, you don’t have to worry about how to cope financially when you return to civilian life.
Women can develop their leadership abilities in various roles.
While serving in the military, chances are you will be opportune to lead a unit several times during your career, and this can help boost your leadership capabilities and instincts.
Physical Fitness Training
Two things that are emphasized in the military are readiness and physical fitness. As a woman, you can benefit from the various trainings organized by the military which boost your endurance, strength, and overall well-being.
This does not only contribute to your healthy lifestyle during military service but also after service.
There is a strong sense of belonging that builds strongly within the military. Women can establish strong bonds with men and women like them serving in the military.
This forms a supportive community filled with lasting friendships and a network of support that goes beyond your time in the military.
As military personnel, you will be able to travel to several places you have never been to for free. You are exposed to new and different cultures and environments.
During deployments and assignments to new places, you stand a chance to broaden your view of life and the world.
Sense of Purpose
There is a feeling of purpose you get when you join the military. You have duties set out for you to carry and you have people you work with to achieve goals.
There is never a day you wake up and wonder what you are doing with your life. This sense of purpose is found in the fact that you contribute to national security and make a positive impact in your country.
Once you start working in the military, you get paid monthly, you also get allowances for food and housing. It does not end there as you also get bonuses for reenlistment and specialized skills.
Joining the military saves you the stress of thinking about how to make your next paycheck or job hunting for scarce jobs where you could be let off any day.
You can go for a college degree or vocational training under the GI bill while serving in the military which will serve you during your post-military career.
As military personnel, you have access to medical and dental care, you can go for treatments, and checkups under the military comprehensive healthcare coverage.
There is a clear path to career advancement while you serve in the military.
After certain years, a good record of performance, competence, and leadership potential, you get promoted to another rank. This increases your pay, responsibility, and personal fulfillment.
The military is a great place for upskilling in technology, communication, leadership, and problem-solving abilities. These skills serve military personnel during their time in the military and after.
The military has made good progress in pushing for gender equality; women have the same opportunities to grow and excel within the military as their male counterparts. Nowadays, we see women who serve in various positions and specialties that are male-dominated.
Combat Roles Limitations
From my last point “Equal Opportunity”, I mentioned that women are given the same opportunity as men to serve in all specialties within the military; however, there are certain limitations that still exist due to the physical requirements that most women would not meet.
Although the military has been increasing their efforts in equal opportunities, women may still not be treated as equals to their male counterparts and this manifests in areas like leadership roles, career opportunities, and promotions.
Traditional gender roles may still be reflected in military culture, posing difficulties for women who choose to defy them. It might be difficult to strike a balance between aggressiveness and leadership and societal conventions.
Because women in the military are from diverse backgrounds and cultures, they may find it difficult to fit into the military community and may end up feeling some type of cultural conflict and isolation.
Limited Maternity Leave
The maternity leave for female military personnel is less generous compared to a female working civilian. It is not easy to balance the demands of service with motherhood responsibilities especially when the child is still very young.
As military personnel, you are bound to move around frequently to new communities and environments which can be challenging for some women. Women who are trying to juggle personal relationships, family needs, careers, etc. may find this very challenging.
The training organized in the military is physically and mentally demanding, and women tend to face more challenges while trying to prove their abilities.
Mental Health Challenges
There are many challenges in the military that can negatively impact a woman more, some of these include societal expectations, harassment, and family dynamics.
Although there is mental health support available to military personnel, there is also the stigma attached to it.
The military utilizes shared living arrangements like ships and barracks which can lead to reduced privacy for women serving in the military.
Stereotypes and Biases
There are a lot of stereotypes and biases that exist in not just military culture but also the society at large. Women face skepticism about their abilities, roles, and career aspirations.
Women are faced with the challenge of constantly having to prove themselves and this can be emotionally draining.
Balancing Family and Service
This aspect is more challenging for women than men. Deployment, long hours, and training cause strain in relationships.
Women are at an increased risk of sexual harassment and assault in the military. This affects both the emotional and psychological well-being of women in the military.
Creating safe working environments and effective reporting mechanisms is very important to resolve this problem.
Women in the military face gender-related challenges like stereotypes, cultural norms, and biases which impact how women are perceived and treated within the military.
The physical demands of the military are tough on women and could even cause a psychological breakdown. Women must put in extra work to ensure their fitness and readiness.
Military work is filled with several deployments, and this can lead to separation from loved ones and this can be emotionally challenging for both parties.
What part of the military is best for females?
The Air Force is most likely the branch of the military that women should join. According to statistics, the Air Force has 21% more female officers than the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps combined, which each have 18%, 18%, and 7% female officers, respectively.
What do girls do in the military?
The military of today is substantially more gender-integrated than it has ever been. Women are now allowed to participate in all combat roles, including those of pilots, mechanics, and infantry officers.
What is basic training like in the Army for females?
Women pick up crucial military abilities including marching, physical fitness, and weapon handling during this time. They also receive classroom instruction in fundamental first aid, map reading, and other crucial skills, as well as Army ideals, conventions, and traditions.
Are romantic relationships allowed in the army?
The following relationships are permitted in the military and not considered fraternization: Having relationships with other enlistees of the same rank. Enlisted personnel dating government contractors or civilian workers.