The life of a woman in active Army service is not made up of cherries and cotton candy. Active military life requires me to constantly overcome various obstacles that are placed within my path on a daily basis. But unlike the other women who quit instead of trying to overcome the difficulties so that they can advance to the senior level positions, I chose to stay on and prove that I am somebody who will always muster the courage to become a worthy counterpart of the male soldier.
I cannot blame the women who leave the service before they reach the senior grade levels though. Sometimes, the obstacles seem insurmountable and endless so that it seems like it is no longer worth the effort to keep on fighting. The reality is that the Army was developed by males and having females come into their ranks as soldiers and officers simply does not sit well with a vast majority of these people. Male soldiers want to believe that women will forever be weak and feeble creatures.
Which is why it will take a immensely strong and influential female role model, a female in active service who will accomplish something so admirable that it will be impossible for the men to ignore the accomplishment to change the male perception. Such an embodiment of female leadership will also finally give the female soldiers a leader whom they can emulate, idolize, and hope to be in the future. The question female soldiers are now left with is “Where do we find such a woman to lead us? ”
I have seen some females who could be the role model we seek but because they are opinionated and sometimes seem more masculine than the males in an effort to make themselves heard, these women get administratively charged and then fired or worse, they voluntarily leave because of the frustration they feel I will admit that building a career as a female Army leader carries tremendous stress and frustration because we have to constantly prove ourselves, sometimes while facing overwhelming odds.
We know very well that the men want to see us fail and the higher leaders already talk down to us and undermine our confidence and ability to think as strong minded females, we still voice our opinions — but at a cost to our femininity. When I was serving at Camp Taji in Iraq, there was a woman who came to the brigade and it seemed like the entire female population of the camp was discussing who she was and where she came from. Before she arrived on camp, we had a male leader who pretty much did not understand, or did not care that the female soldiers where not complying with the regulations.
Maybe he was afraid of being reported for sexual harassment if he called a female on a violation. All of that changed when our female leader arrived. We began to take pride in our appearance and grooming because this leader was not afraid to call us on any infractions we may have. Here was a woman who had the grace of a ballerina, the posture of a military professional, and the attitude of a leader who knew how to get the job done. She spoke in the manner of a highly educated person who was neither condescending nor rude. Not once did I ever catch her in a uniform that was not sharply pressed.
Her hair was always tucked behind her head and her hat was always so crisp that it would stand on its own. She knew all about the Army Standard and insured that she would always uphold it to the best of her abilities. She did not care that she faced becoming an outcast because she was vocal about her beliefs regarding what was right for the army. She did not hesitate to use discipline when necessary and she let us know that if the Army cannot entrust you with small tasks, how could we be expected to complete real missions on the battlefront? Discipline was key.
Sure she was called a bitch by most, but she was a bitch who got the job done. She knew that there were no acceptable excuses and compliance with the rules is all that mattered. For those are the traits of a real leader. She has been my role model ever since. Males believe that women who succeed in military life can only be either of 2 things. A bitch or a lesbian. Neither of which are true. I am severely hurt when I hear comments like this. More so when I hear it from fellow females. This is why when I was given the duty of a company leader, I told myself that I was going to prove them wrong.
I can be an effective leader without being a bitch and still keep my femininity to use whenever I want to. Since I currently serve as a company leader, I find myself constantly having to push myself to perform my duties even more effectively than a man. With 6 platoons and a corresponding 6 male platoon Sergeants under my direct supervision, 3 of whom have been in active military service far longer than me, I can honestly say that it took a lot of heartache for me to be able to lead them because they never expected a female to come out of nowhere and be given the duty of running a line unit.
My first few months as company leader were very difficult. I had to overcome the fact that my platoon sergeants chose to ignore my orders and would rather do things their own way. The problem with this situation is that when all hell broke lose, it was my command responsibility and it was my bottom on the line. The men viewed me as a figurehead but, as they quickly learned, I knew how to get their attention and crack the whip upon them. It took some time but my corrective training eventually paid off and they now regard me with the same respect as they would a male company leader.
I approached the situation the way a male company leader would. I knew exactly what they could do on a PT challenge so I stepped up the requirements a bit for them. After 55 pushups, 100 sit ups and a 13:00 run that left them winded, they certainly had a clear message regarding who was in charge of the company. From then on, I never hesitated to reintroduce them to Army Standards as the need arose. Each time I run my company, I recall my experiences with that female leader in Iraq and remind myself that she was leadership in action.
She was at the top of her game and although probably lonely at the top, she was prepared for all the challenges that came her way. I was able to properly do my job and was good at it because I chose to be an engaging leader. My job was to make sure that my soldier’s received 100% quality training and I did not let the challenges posed before me because of my gender stop me from delivering what was necessary. It is unfortunate that these challenges to the female gender will always be present. Men will always develop a sense of anger and bitterness when a woman gets ahead of them.
I have experienced being conspired against by my male subordinates because I threatened their male supremacy within the ranks. Which is why I try to seek a balance between the two genders. I ask both the male and females for advice in order to prove to the males that I only want to work with them, not against them. Gender discrimination is not a right. It not a privilege either. It is an unacceptable situation that exists within the military because of gender bias and issues. There was a serious point in time when all the intrigue was hitting me so hard that I contemplated leaving the military.
I was frustrated and discouraged by what I believe to be the direction the military was headed in. Thankfully, I was talked out of it by the other females in the army who were with me in similar positions of authority. Through their mentorship, I came to the realization that I had to stay where I was regardless of the obstacles before me because the future of women in the military depended upon it. If every female who ever entered active military service were to quit, the males will have won and proven that females just do not have what it takes to survive in a world that they wish to solely dominate.
Men in the military are already an established dominant population. But that does not mean that the military can never be female ready. It is up to existing female military leaders such as myself to cultivate the new military world. Where women will be able to serve alongside men with a little restrictions as possible while taking care of ourselves on the field. After all, men take care of themselves on the battlefront. If women want to be treated equally in the military, they we should learn to become just as self sufficient and independent on all the fronts. 2 years ago, females were finally allowed to see active combat duty in Iraq.
I consider this to be a success for the females in military service. This is the military’s acknowledgement that men and women actually have the same skill level once trained properly and can both serve on the battlefront without being a hindrance to one another. Work Cited Bender, Bryan. (2005). U. S. women get closer to combat. The Boston Globe. Retrieved December 4, 2007, from http://www. boston. com/news/nation/washington/articles/2005/01/26/us_women_get_closer_to/ RAND. (1997). Military readiness: women are not a problem. RAND Research Brief . Retrieved December 5, 2007,