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New Study Shows Combat Jobs Not Open to Army Women

Posted October 21, 1997

— American women soldiers wear the uniform, take the oath, and carry the guns, but some will tell you that the equality stops there. Now, a new study done by RAND's National Defense Research Institute backs that theory up.

Only a few women hold combat-related jobs, even though thousands of such jobs are open to them.

For the study, researchers visited 14 units and held focus groups with about 500 military personnel. What they found is that women still are not being placed in the combat roles which have opened for them over the last few years.

Some women in the military will tell you they don't want to fight, while others who are now out of the military say there's a push to keep women off the front lines. So, while they may look the part, some women, such as Sue Ellen Thomas, still feel like the military isn't letting them play the part.

It's exactly why Thomas got out of the army a year ago. A study by RAND's National Defense Research Institute found that women hold only 815 of the more than 47,000 combat jobs that opened up over the last three years.

Some soldiers speculate that's partly because women don't want to fight. Officer Myrna Campbell got out of the army three years ago and says, had she stayed, she probably would have gone into combat.

Campbell says she feels she was always treated equally, although she did see other women have trouble moving up the ranks.

Many women say this latest study proves the military has a long way to go before women are truly considered equal. Some say there's a feeling that the military is still years away from the civilian world in it's acceptance of women, but that until women start challenging the rules things are not likely to change.

Photographer:Mike Joyner


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