According to the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation, there are more than 200,000 women serving on active duty in the U.S. military and more than 140,000 serving in the Reserves and Guard. Women comprise approximately 16 per cent of all military members serving America, and there are both pros and cons to women joining the military.
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Pro: Stable Job
Like men, women who join the military can find themselves in a job that is relatively recession proof. America will always need members serving in the military, regardless of how the economy is performing. Historically, military members have been awarded cost of living raises in most years, even when the civilian population as a whole have experienced raise freezes. In addition, raises in the military are given as time in service and rank increases.
Pro: Opportunity for Advancement
The military provides many opportunities for advancement, regardless of gender. Because the promotion system in the military is tied to earning points for training, education, assignments and leadership roles, women generally have an equal opportunity for advancement in enlisted ranks and in lower officer ranks. In higher officer ranks, when politics come into play for appointments, women have historically been at a disadvantage. However, this may be beginning to change, as a woman was nominated as a four-star General in the Army for the first time in 2008.
Con: Limited Career Fields
Women are limited in how they can serve in the military, because they are generally banned from combat-related jobs. For example, women are not allowed to serve in infantry, artillery, special operations, armour, combat engineering or reconnaissance positions. The wars in Iraq or Afghanistan have blurred these restrictions, as even though women are not allowed in combat positions, their positions have placed them in the front lines of the war. Women have been killed and wounded overseas in combat-related incidents.
Con: Deployments and Separations
Deployments and separations due to training are a fact in the military. Particularly in the Army, it is the norm to be deployed overseas at least once during an enlistment. Because women are viewed by society as caretakers of the family, they may receive additional criticism for leaving family behind to serve the country. Furthermore, pregnancy prevents women from serving in any capacity overseas, and as soon as the pregnancy is revealed, the female soldier is returned back to the United States.
Con: Sexual Harassment and Assault
The U.S. Department of Defense released a report in March 2009, detailing reports of sexual harassment received in financial year 2008. The study reveals an 8 per cent increase of sexual assaults, with just under 3,000 cases reported. In addition, 9 per cent of women reported unwanted sexual contact, as compared to only 1 per cent of men.
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