Women in the United States Navy
Many women have served in the United States Navy for over a century. Today, there are over 52,391 women serving on active duty in an array of traditional (administrative, medical, etc.) and non-traditional (aviation, combat systems, etc.) ratings or careers. Like their male counterparts, female sailors are expected to adhere to regulations specific to appearance, grooming, and health and fitness; however some differences exist for example in physical fitness tests due to performance and in relation to pregnancy and parenting provisions created to help support military families.
Pre–World War I
Women worked as nurses for the Navy as early as the American Civil War. The United States Navy Nurse Corps was officially established in 1908; it was all-female until 1965. After the establishment of the Nurse Corps in 1908 by an Act of Congress, twenty women were selected as the first members and assigned to the Naval Medical School Hospital in Washington, D.C. However, the navy did not provide room or board for them, and so the nurses rented their own house and provided their own meals. In time, the nurses would come to be known as "The Sacred Twenty" because they were the first women to serve formally as members of the Navy. The "Sacred Twenty" were Mary H. Du Bose; Adah M. Pendleton; Elizabeth M. Hewitt; Della V. Knight; Josephine Beatrice Bowman; Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee; Esther Voorhees Hasson, the first Superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps, 1908–1911; Martha E. Pringle; Elizabeth J. Wells; Clare L. De Ceu.; Elizabeth Leonhardt; Estelle Hine; Ethel R. Parsons; Florence T. Milburn; Boniface T. Small; Victoria White; Isabelle Rose Roy; Margaret D. Murray; Sara B. Myer; and Sara M. Cox. The Nurse Corps gradually expanded to 160 on the eve of World War I. For a few months in 1913, Navy nurses saw their first shipboard service, aboard Mayflower and Dolphin.
World War I
The increased size of the United States Navy in support of World War I increased the need for clerical and administrative support. The U.S. Naval Reserve Act of 1916 permitted the enlistment of qualified "persons" for service; Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels asked, "Is there any law that says a Yeoman must be a man?" and was told there was not. Thus, the Navy was able to induct its first female sailors into the U.S. Naval Reserve. The first woman to enlist in the U.S. Navy was Loretta Perfectus Walsh on 17 March 1917. She was also the first American active-duty Navy woman, and the first woman allowed to serve as a woman in any of the United States armed forces, as anything other than as a nurse. Walsh subsequently became the first woman U.S. Navy petty officer when she was sworn in as Chief Yeoman on March 21, 1917. During World War I Navy women served around the continental U.S. and in France, Guam and Hawaii, mostly as Yeomen (F), but also as radio operators, electricians, draftsmen, pharmacists, photographers, telegraphers, fingerprint experts, chemists, torpedo assemblers and camouflage designers. Some black women served as Yeomen (F) and were the first black women to serve as enlisted members of the U.S. armed forces. These first black women to serve in the Navy were 16 Yeomen (F)—the total would rise to 24—from some of "Washington's elite black families" who "worked in the Muster Roll division at Washington's Navy Yard...." All women in the Navy were released from active duty after the end of the war.
World War II
World War II again brought the need for additional personnel. This time the Navy organized to recruit women into a separate women's auxiliary, labeled Women Appointed for Voluntary Emergency Service (WAVES). WAVES served in varied positions around the continental U.S. and in Hawaii. See WAVES.
Two groups of Navy nurses were held prisoner by the Japanese in World War II. Chief Nurse Marion Olds and nurses Leona Jackson, Lorraine Christiansen, Virginia Fogerty and Doris Yetter were taken prisoner on Guam shortly after Pearl Harbor and transported to Japan. They were repatriated in August 1942, although the newspaper did not identify them as Navy nurses. Chief Nurse Laura Cobb and her nurses, Mary Chapman, Bertha Evans, Helen Gorzelanski, Mary Harrington, Margaret Nash, Goldie O'Haver, Eldene Paige, Susie Pitcher, Dorothy Still and C. Edwina Todd (some of the "Angels of Bataan") were captured in 1942 and imprisoned in the Los Baños internment camp, where they continued to function as a nursing unit, until they were rescued by American forces in 1945. Other Los Baños prisoners later said: "We are absolutely certain that had it not been for these nurses many of us who are alive and well would have died." The nurses were awarded the Bronze Star Medal by the Army, a second award by the Navy and the Army's Distinguished Unit Badge. Ann Agnes Bernatitus, one of the Angels of Bataan, nearly became a POW; she was one of the last to escape Corregidor Island, via the USS Spearfish. Upon her return to the United States she became the first American to receive the Legion of Merit.
Korean War era
Women in the Naval Reserve were recalled along with their male counterparts for duty during the Korean War.
Vietnam War era
Nurses served aboard the hospital ship USS SANCTUARY. Nine non-nurse Navy women served in country; however no enlisted Navy women were authorized.
Women in the Navy since 1970
Major changes occurred for Navy women in the 1970s. Alene Duerk became the first female admiral in the Navy in 1972. In 1976 RADM Fran McKee became the first female unrestricted line officer appointed to flag rank. In 1978, Judge John Sirica ruled the law banning Navy women from ships to be unconstitutional in the case Owens v. Brown. That year, Congress approved a change to Title 10 USC Section 6015 to permit the Navy to assign women to fill sea duty billets on support and noncombatant ships. During the 1970s, women began to enter the surface warfare and aviation fields, gained access to officer accession programs previously open only to men, and started to screen for command opportunities ashore.
In December 2015, Defense Secretary Ash Carter stated that starting in 2016 all combat jobs would open to women. In March 2016 Ash Carter approved final plans from military service branches and the U.S. Special Operations Command to open all combat jobs to women, and authorized the military to begin integrating female combat soldiers "right away."
In 1973 the Secretary of the Navy announced the authorization of naval aviation training for women. LTJG Judith Neuffer was the first woman selected for flight training. In 1974, the Navy became the first service to graduate a woman pilot, LT Barbara Allen Rainey, followed closely by classmates Judith Neuffer, Ana Marie Fuqua, Rosemary Bryant Mariner, Jane Skiles O'Dea and Joellen Drag.
In 1979 the Naval Flight Officer (NFO) program opened to women. In 1979, LT Lynn Spruill became the first woman Naval aviator to obtain carrier qualification.
Around 1972, Roseanne Roberts became the first woman helicopter plane captain.
Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677 (1973), was a landmark Supreme Court case which decided that benefits given by the military to the family of service members cannot be given out differently because of sex.
Officer Accession Programs
The Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) was opened to women in 1972 and the first woman was commissioned from a ROTC program in 1974. The Women Officer School (WOS), Newport, RI, was disestablished in 1973, and Officer Candidate School (OCS) training was integrated to support men and women. The United States Naval Academy, along with the other military academies, first accepted women in 1976 and commissioned its first female graduates in 1980. Women also began attending Aviation Officer Candidate School (AOCS) in 1976.
On 29 April 2010, the Department of the Navy announced authorization of a policy change allowing women to begin serving onboard Navy submarines. The new policy and plan was set to begin with the integration of female Officers. A group of up to 24 female Officers (three Officers on each of eight different crews) were scheduled to enter the standard nuclear submarine training pipeline in July 2010 – and expected to report to submarine duty by late 2011 or early 2012. Integration of Enlisted females into submarine crews was expected to begin soon thereafter.
Initial candidates for female Submarine Officer positions were highly qualified selects from accession sources that include the Naval Academy, Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps, STA-21 program and Officer Candidate School, with transfers possible for those from other Unrestricted Line Officer communities. A group of up to eight female Supply Corps Officers was also expected to complete requisite training and begin submarine service in the same time frame.
Initial assignments for female submariners were on the blue and gold crews of selected guided-missile submarines (SSGNs) and ballistic-missile submarines (SSBNs). Two submarines of each type served as the inaugural vessels.
On 22 June 2012, a Sailor assigned to USS Ohio (SSGN 726) became the first female supply officer to qualify in U.S. submarines. Lt. Britta Christianson of Ohio's Gold Crew received her Submarine Supply Corps "dolphins" from the Gold Crew Commanding Officer Capt. Rodney Mills during a brief ceremony at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS & IMF).
On 5 December 2012, three Sailors assigned to USS Maine (SSBN 741) and USS Wyoming (SSBN 742) became the first female unrestricted line officers to qualify in U.S. submarines. Lt. j.g. Marquette Leveque, a native of Fort Collins, Colo., assigned to the Gold Crew of Wyoming, and Lt. j.g. Amber Cowan and Lt. j.g. Jennifer Noonan [ROTC Cornell University], a native of Scituate MA, both of Maine's Blue Crew received their submarine "dolphins" during separate ceremonies at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga., and Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Wash.
In 2013, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said that the first women to join Virginia-class attack subs had been chosen: They were newly commissioned female officers scheduled to report to their subs in fiscal year 2015.
In 1972 the pilot program for assignment of officers and enlisted women to ships was initiated onboard USS SANCTUARY (AH-17). In 1978 Congress approved a change to Title 10 USC Section 6015 to permit the Navy to assign women to fill sea duty billets on support and noncombatant ships. The Surface Warfare community opened to women. In 1979, the first woman obtained her Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) qualification. In 1998, Congress approved women to serve on combat ships. There were about 33 women who were the first assigned to these sea billets.
Timeline of women in the United States Navy
|1908||The Navy Nurse Corps was established; it was all-female until 1965.|
|1917||Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels announced that the Navy would enlist women on 17 March.|
|1917||Loretta Perfectus Walsh became the first woman to enlist in the Navy on 17 March.|
|1942||President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Public Law 689 creating the Navy’s women reserve program on 30 July 1942.|
|1942||Lieutenant Commander Mildred H. McAfee, USNR, Director of the WAVES, became the Navy’s first female Line Officer.|
|1944||Lieutenant Harriet Ida Pickens and Ensign Frances Wills were commissioned as the first African-American female Navy officers.|
|1944||Sue Dauser, the Director of the Navy Nurse Corps, became the first female Captain in the Navy.|
|1948||On 15 October 1948, the first eight women were commissioned in the regular Navy: Joy Bright Hancock, Winifred Quick Collins, Ann King, Frances Willoughby, Ellen Ford, Doris Cranmore, Doris Defenderfer, and Betty Rae Tennant took their oaths as naval officers.|
|1959||Yeoman Anna Der-Vartanian was the first woman in the Navy promoted to Master Chief Petty Officer, and the first woman in the Armed Services promoted to E-9.|
|1961||Lieutenant Charlene I. Suneson became the first line WAVES officer to be ordered to shipboard duty.|
|1967||Public Law 90-130 was signed into law; it removed legal ceilings on women's promotions that had kept them out of the general and flag ranks, and dropped the two percent ceiling on officer and enlisted strengths for women in the armed forces.|
|1972||Roseanne Roberts becomes the first woman helicopter captain.|
|1972||Alene Duerk became the first female admiral in the Navy.|
|1973||Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677 (1973), was a landmark Supreme Court case which decided that benefits given by the military to the family of service members cannot be given out differently because of sex.|
|1974||Lieutenant Junior Grade Barbara Ann (Allen) Rainey became the first Navy woman to earn her wings on 22 February 1974.|
|1974||The first women were commissioned through NROTC.|
|1976||Fran McKee became the Navy's first female unrestricted line flag officer.|
|1978||Navy Nurse Joan C. Bynum became the first black woman promoted to the rank of Captain.|
|1978||Judge John Sirica ruled the law banning Navy women from ships to be unconstitutional in the case Owens v. Brown. That same year, Congress approved a change to Title 10 USC Section 6015 to permit the Navy to assign women to fill sea duty billets on support and noncombatant ships.|
|1979||Lieutenant Lynn Spruill became the first female Navy pilot qualified to land on aircraft carriers.|
|1979||The first woman in the Navy to qualify as a Surface Warfare Officer did so this year.|
|1980||The first women graduated from the Naval Academy. There were 81 women in the class of 1980 at the Naval Academy, and 55 of them graduated. Elizabeth Belzer was the first female graduate and Janie L. Mines was the first black female graduate.|
|1984||Kristine Holderied became the first female valedictorian of the Naval Academy.|
|1990||Rear Admiral Marsha J. Evans became the first woman to command a Naval Station.|
|1990||Lieutenant Commander Darlene Iskra became the first Navy woman to command a ship, USS Opportune (ARS-41).|
|1991||The Tailhook scandal occurred, in which Navy (and Marine Corps) aviators were accused of sexually assaulting 83 women (and 7 men) at the Tailhook convention in Las Vegas.|
|1996||Patricia Tracey became the first female three star officer (Vice Admiral) in the Navy.|
|1998||CDR Maureen A. Farren became the first woman to command a combatant ship in the Navy.|
|1998||Lillian Fishburne became the first African-American woman promoted to flag rank in the Navy.|
|2006||Carol M. Pottenger became the first woman to command an expeditionary strike group in the Navy.|
|2010||Nora Tyson became the first woman to command a carrier strike group in the Navy.|
|2011||The first group of female submariners in the Navy completed nuclear power school and officially reported on board two ballistic and two guided missile submarines in November 2011.|
|2012||Commander Monika Washington Stoker became the first African American woman to take command of a Navy missile destroyer.|
|2012||Five "Tigertails" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron One Two Five (VAW-125), embarked aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) as part of Carrier Air Wing Seventeen (CVW-17), flew an historic flight on 25 January when they participated in the Navy's first all-female E-2C Hawkeye combat mission.|
|2012||On 22 June 2012, a Sailor assigned to USS Ohio (SSGN 726) became the first female supply officer to qualify in submarines in the Navy. Lt. Britta Christianson of Ohio's Gold Crew received her Submarine Supply Corps "dolphins" from the Gold Crew Commanding Officer Capt. Rodney Mills during a brief ceremony at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS & IMF).|
|2012||On 5 December 2012, three Sailors assigned to USS Maine (SSBN 741) and USS Wyoming (SSBN 742) became the first female unrestricted line officers to qualify in submarines in the Navy. LTJG Marquette Leveque, a native of Fort Collins, Colo., assigned to the Gold Crew of Wyoming, and LTJG Amber Cowan and LTJG Jennifer Noonan [ROTC Cornell University], a native of Scituate MA, both of Maine's Blue Crew received their submarine "dolphins" during separate ceremonies at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga., and Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Wash.|
|2012||Robin Braun became the first female commander of the Navy Reserve, making her the first female three star aviator and the first woman to lead any Reserve component of the military.|
|2014||Michelle J. Howard became the first female four-star admiral in the Navy.|
|2014||In July 2014, Marine Corps Captain Katie Higgins became the first female pilot to join the Blue Angels, the Navy's flight demonstration squadron. She piloted the team's KC-130 Hercules support aircraft, "Fat Albert."|
|2015||Nora Tyson was installed as the commander of the Navy’s Third Fleet, making her the first woman to lead a Navy ship fleet.|
|2015||Cheryl Hansen became the first female commander of the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport, Mississippi.|
|2015||In December 2015, Defense Secretary Ash Carter stated that starting in 2016 all combat jobs would open to women.|
|2016||In March 2016, Defense Secretary Ash Carter approved final plans from military service branches and the U.S. Special Operations Command to open all combat jobs to women, and authorized the military to begin integrating female combat soldiers "right away."|
|2016||In August 2016, Dominique Saavedra became the first enlisted female sailor to earn her submarine qualification.|
In the Navy, women are currently eligible to serve in all ratings. In 2013 Leon Panetta removed the U.S. military's ban on women serving in combat, overturning a 1994 rule prohibiting women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units. Panetta's decision gave the U.S. military services until January 2016 to seek special exceptions if they believed any positions must remain closed to women. The services had until May 2013 to draw up a plan for opening all units to women and until the end of 2015 to actually implement it. In December 2015, Defense Secretary Ash Carter stated that starting in 2016 all combat jobs would open to women.
The former policy set by Congress and the Secretary of Defense, effective 1 October 1994, excluded women from direct ground combat billets in the military, stating:
- "Service members who are eligible to be assigned to all positions for which they are qualified, except that women shall be excluded from assignment to units below the brigade level whose primary mission is to engage in direct combat on the ground as defined below. "Direct ground combat is engaging an enemy on the ground with individual or crew-served weapons, while being exposed to hostile fire and to a high probability of direct physical contact with the hostile force's personnel. Direct combat take place well forward on the battlefield while locating and closing with the enemy to defeat them by fire, maneuver, or shock effect." However, qualified and motivated women are encouraged to investigate the diver and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) fields."
- A certified maternity uniform is mandatory for all pregnant servicewomen in the Navy when the regular uniform no longer fits.
- Hair: The Navy deems that hairstyles shall not be "outrageously multicolored" or "faddish," to include shaved portions of the scalp (other than the neckline), or have designs cut or braided into the hair. Hair coloring must look natural and complement the individual. Haircuts and styles shall present a balanced appearance. Lopsided and extremely asymmetrical styles are not authorized. Ponytails, pigtails, widely spaced individual hanging locks, and braids that protrude from the head, are not authorized. Multiple braids are authorized. Braided hairstyles shall be conservative and conform to the guidelines listed herein. When a hairstyle of multiple braids is worn, braids shall be of uniform dimension, small in diameter (approx. 1/4 inch), and tightly interwoven to present a neat, professional, well-groomed appearance. Foreign material (i.e., beads, decorative items) shall not be braided into the hair. Short hair may be braided in symmetrical fore and aft rows (cornrowing) that minimize scalp exposure. Cornrow ends shall not protrude from the head, and shall be secured only with inconspicuous rubber bands that match the color of the hair. Appropriateness of a hairstyle shall also be judged by its appearance when headgear is worn. All headgear shall fit snugly and comfortably around the largest part of the head without distortion or excessive gaps. Hair shall not show from under the front of the brim of the combination hat, garrison, or command ball caps. Hairstyles which do not allow headgear to be worn in this manner, or which interfere with the proper wear of protective masks or equipment are prohibited. When in uniform, the hair may touch, but not fall below a horizontal line level with the lower edge of the back of the collar.
- Cosmetics: The Navy prefers that cosmetics be applied in good taste so that colors blend with natural skin tone and enhance natural features. Exaggerated or faddish cosmetic styles are not authorized and shall not be worn. Care should be taken to avoid artificial appearance. Lipstick colors shall be conservative and complement the individual. Long false eyelashes shall not be worn when in uniform.
- Tattoos: Navy policy stipulates that any tattoo/body art/brand that is obscene, sexually explicit or advocates discrimination of any sort is prohibited. No tattoos/body art/brands on the head, face, neck, or scalp and individual tattoos/body art/brands exposed by wearing a short sleeve uniform shirt shall be no larger in size than the wearer’s hand with fingers extended and joined with the thumb touching the base of the index finger.
- Jewelry: Conservative jewelry is authorized for all personnel and shall be in good taste while in uniform. Eccentricities or faddishness are not permitted. Jewelry shall not present a safety or FOD (Foreign object damage) hazard. Jewelry shall be worn within the following guidelines
- Earrings: Earrings for women are an optional item, and are not required for wear. When worn the earring shall be a 4-6mm ball (gold for officers/CPOs, and silver for E-6 and below), plain with brushed, matte finish, screw-on or post type. Pearl earrings may be worn with Dinner Dress or Formal uniforms.
- Rings: While in uniform, only one (1) ring per hand is authorized, plus a wedding/engagement ring set. Rings are not authorized for wear on thumbs.
- Necklaces: While in uniform, only one (1) necklace may be worn and it shall not be visible.
- Bracelets: While in uniform, only one (1) of each may be worn. Ankle bracelets are not authorized while in uniform.
- Fingernails: Fingernails for women shall not exceed 1/4 inch beyond the end of the finger. They shall be kept clean. Nail polish may be worn, but colors shall be conservative and complement the skin tone.
Health & Fitness Standards
The Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) is conducted twice a year for all sailors, which includes:
- Body Composition Assessment (BCA). Body composition is assessed by:
- An initial weight and height screening
- A Navy-approved circumference technique to estimate body fat percentage
Physical Readiness Test (PRT) include different standards for male and female sailors. PRT is a series of physical activities designed to evaluate factors that enable members to perform physically. Factors evaluated are:
- Muscular strength and endurance via:
- Aerobic capacity via:
- 1.5-mile run/walk, or
- 500-yard or 450-meter swim
PT Fitness Standards (NSW/NSO programs only):
- The PST consists of five (5) events:
- 500-yard swim (using sidestroke or breaststroke)
- Push-Ups (as many as possible in 2-minutes)
- Sit-Ups (as many as possible in 2-minutes)
- Pull-Ups (as many as possible, no time limit)
- 1 ½ mile run
Navy Family Life
Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677 (1973), was a landmark Supreme Court case which decided that benefits given by the military to the family of service members cannot be given out differently because of sex.
Spouse co-location assignments are fully supported by the Chief of Naval Personnel and when requested become the highest priority and main duty preference consistent with the needs of the Navy. While not always possible, every effort, within reason, will be made for military couples and family members to move & serve together. Co-op assignments are not guaranteed.
The service member requesting transfer to join with his/her spouse or family member must have a minimum of one year on board his/her present command at the time of transfer.
Military couples may not be permanently assigned to the same ship or the same shipboard deployable command. For shore assignments, the couple will not assign to the same reporting senior without the gaining CO’s approval. Unusual circumstances may require a couple being temporarily assigned to the same afloat activity, which is allowable at the CO’s discretion.
Pregnancy & Parenting Resources
- Pregnant servicewomen may remain onboard up to their 20th week of pregnancy.
- An extension of up to one year may be granted in order to receive maternity benefits, provided the member’s performance has been satisfactory and first term Sailors have PTS approval.
- No later than 6 months after being returned to full duty by a HCP, the servicewoman is required to take the PFA and conform to acceptable height/weight standards.
- No servicewomen may be assigned overseas or travel overseas after the completion of the 28th week of pregnancy.
- The New Parent Support Home Visitation Program (NPSHVP) is a team of professionals providing supportive and caring services to military families with new babies. Navy families and other military families expecting a child or with children up to three years of age are assessed to determine if they need help managing the demands of a new baby. In the program, new Moms and Dads can be referred to community new baby programs and are eligible to participate in a voluntary home visitation program, free of charge. The New Parent Support Home Visitation Program was developed to assist military families in ways that friends and family would do if you were back home. This program offers expectant parents and parents of newborn and young children the opportunity to learn new skills as parents and to improve existing parenting skills, in the privacy of their own home.
It was announced on June 30, 2016 that, beginning on that date, otherwise qualified United States service members could not any longer be discharged, denied reenlistment, involuntarily separated, or denied continuation of service because of being transgender (including but not limited to transgender women).
In her 1995 book, Jean Zimmerman reported that there was a perception in the Navy that women sailors use pregnancy to escape or avoid deployed ship duty. In an example cited by Zimmerman, in 1993 as the USS Cape Cod prepared to depart on a deployment cruise, 25 female sailors, out of a crew of 1,500, reported being pregnant shortly before the scheduled departure and were reassigned to shore duty. Although Zimmerman felt that the number of pregnancies was small and should not be regarded as significant, the senior enlisted sailor on the ship, Command Master Chief Alice Smith rejoined, "Just about every division has been decimated by the number of pregnancies. Now tell me that's not going to hurt a ship." A 1997 study by the Navy Personnel Research and Development Center found that female sailors assigned to ships experienced higher pregnancy and abortion rates than shore-based female sailors.
A Navy policy change in June 2007 extended post-partum tours of duty ashore from 4 months to 12 months. A Virginia Pilot article in October 2007 reported on the Navy's policy decision as a means to improve long term retention of trained personnel. The chief of women's policy for the chief of personnel noted that far more men than women fail to deploy or are sent back from deployment, "because of sports injuries, discipline issues or testing positive for drugs."
In 2009, Andrew Tilghman reported in the Military Times on a Naval Inspector General (IG) report noting that, in the wake of this change, Navy shore commands based in Norfolk reported that 34% of their assigned members were pregnant sailors reassigned from ship duty. Since shore-based assignments for pregnant sailors were extended in 2007, the number of Navy women leaving deploying units to have children rose from 1,770 in June 2006 to 3,125 as of 1 August 2009. Tilghman further reports that Navy Personnel Command is reviewing the report.
Before the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy was enacted in 1993, lesbians and bisexual women (and gay men and bisexual men) were banned from serving in the military. In 1993 the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy was enacted, which mandated that the military could not ask servicemembers about their sexual orientation. However, until the policy was ended in 2011 service members were still expelled from the military if they engaged in sexual conduct with a member of the same sex, stated that they were lesbian, gay, or bisexual, and/or married or attempted to marry someone of the same sex.
Women on submarines
In July 1994, policy changes were made expanding the number of assignments available to women in the Navy. At this time, repeal of the combat exclusion law gave women the opportunity to serve on surface combatant ships but still excluded assignments for women to serve onboard submarines. Previously there had been concern about bringing women onto submarines because living quarters offered little privacy and weren’t considered suitable for mixed gender habitation.
In October 2009, the Secretary of the Navy announced that he and the Chief of Naval Operations were moving aggressively to change the policy. Reasons included the fact that larger SSGN and SSBN submarines now in the Fleet had more available space and could accommodate female Officers with little or no modification. Also, the availability of qualified female candidates with the desire to serve in this capacity was cited. It was noted that women now represented 15% of the Active Duty Navy and that women today earn about half of all science and engineering bachelor's degrees. A policy change was deemed to serve the aspirations of women, the mission of the Navy and the strength of its submarine force.
In February 2010, the Secretary of Defense approved the proposed policy and signed letters formally notifying Congress of the intended change. After receiving no objection, the Department of the Navy officially announced on 29 April 2010, that it had authorized women to serve onboard submarines moving forward.
|1||Howard, Michelle J.Michelle J. Howard||1982 (USNA)||Vice Chief of Naval Operations||Surface Warfare||2006||2010||2012||2014||Currently on active duty.|
|2||Tracey, Patricia A.Patricia A. Tracey||1970||Director, Navy Staff, N09B, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations||URL||?||?||1996||2004||First woman to earn third star in the US Navy.|
|3||Rondeau, Ann E.Ann E. Rondeau||1974 (OCS)||President, National Defense University||Fleet Support||1999||2002||2005||2012||Retired.|
|4||Brown, Nancy ElizabethNancy Elizabeth Brown||1974 (OCS)||Director for C4 Systems (J6)||URL||2000||2003||2006||2009||Retired.|
|5||Pottenger, Carol M.Carol M. Pottenger||1977 (ROTC)||Deputy Chief of Staff for Capability and Development, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation||Surface Warfare||2003||2007||2010||2013||Retired.|
|6||DeRenzi, Nanette M.Nanette M. DeRenzi||1984 (OIS)||Judge Advocate General of the Navy||JAG||2009||2009||2012||Retired.|
|7||Braun, RobinRobin Braun||1980||Chief of Navy Reserve/Commander, Navy Reserve Force||Reserve, Naval Aviator||2007||2011||2012||Currently serving. 1st female commander of the Navy Reserve.|
|8||Tyson, Nora W.Nora W. Tyson||1979 (OCS)||Commander, US Third Fleet||Naval Flight Officer||2007||2011||2013||First woman to command a carrier strike group.|
|9||Tighe, JanJan Tighe||1984 (USNA)||Commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command, Commander U. S. 10th Fleet||IDW/Crypto||2010||2013||2014||First female IDW flag officer. First woman to command a numbered fleet.|
|10||McKee, FranFran McKee||1950||Assistant Chief of Naval Personnel for Human Resource Management||URL||1976||1978||1981||First woman line officer promoted to flag rank in the United States Navy. Second woman promoted to flag rank in the United States Navy|
|11||Hazard, Roberta L.Roberta L. Hazard||1960||Assistant Chief of Naval Personnel, Personnel Readiness and Community Support 1989–1992||URL||1984||1989||1992||First woman to command a Navy training command (NTC San Diego 1982).|
|12||Evans, Marsha J.Marsha J. Evans||1967||Superintendent of the Naval Postgraduate School 1995–1998||Fleet Support||1992||1996||1998||Retired.|
|13||Engel, Joan MarieJoan Marie Engel||1969||18th Director, Navy Nurse Corps 1994–1998||SHCE (Nurse Corps)||1994||1997||2000||18th Director, Navy Nurse Corps.|
|14||McGann, Barbara E.Barbara E. McGann||1970 (OCS)||Provost, Naval War College 2000–2002||URL||1994||1998||2002||Notes.|
|15||Froman, VeronicaVeronica Froman||1970||Director, Ashore Readiness, Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.c. 2000 – 2001||Fleet Support||1995||1999||2001||First woman commander of Navy Region Southwest (aka "Navy Mayor of San Diego"), 1997–2000.|
|16||Potter, Bonnie BurnhamBonnie Burnham Potter||1975 (OIS)||Fleet Surgeon, U.S. Atlantic Fleet 1999–||Medical Corps||1997||2000||2003||First female physician to become a flag officer in the military.|
|17||Paige, KathleenKathleen Paige||1971||Program Director, Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense 2003–2005||Engineering Duty Officer||1996||2001||2005||Retired.|
|18||Harmeyer, Karen A.Karen A. Harmeyer||1975||Chief of Staff, Chief of Naval Operations, N093R, Washington, D.C.||SHCE (Nurse Corps)||1997||2001||2002||Retired. 1st female two-star in the Reserves.|
|19||Martin, Kathleen L.Kathleen L. Martin||1973 (OIS)||Deputy Surgeon General of the Navy/ Vice Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery 2002–2005||SHCE (Nurse Corps)||1998||2001||2005||19th Director of the Navy Nurse Corps from August 1998 to August 2001. First Nurse Corps officer to be assigned to the position of Deputy Surgeon General of the Navy.|
|20||Brown, Annette E.Annette E. Brown||1974 (OCS)||Commander, Navy Region Southeast (2002)||Fleet Support||1999||2002||2005||Retired.|
|21||Bird, Linda J.Linda J. Bird||1974 (OCS)||Director, Supply, Ordnance and Logistics Operations Division, N41 2003–2005||Supply Corps||1999||2002?||2005||Retired.|
|22||Morris, Elizabeth M.Elizabeth M. Morris||1973 (OIS)||Deputy Chief for Reserve Affairs at the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery 2005–2006?||SHCE (Nurse Corps)||2001||2004||2006||Retired.|
|23||Lescavage, Nancy J.Nancy J. Lescavage||1972 (OIS)||Senior Health Care Executive Regional Director, TRICARE Regional Office – West||SHCE (Nurse Corps)||2003||2004||Retired.20th Director of the Navy Nurse Corps.|
|24||Crisp, Donna L.Donna L. Crisp||1974 (OCS)||Commander, Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command||URL||2001||2005||Retired.|
|25||Gilbride, Ann D.Ann D. Gilbride||1978 (OCS)||Director, National Maritime Intelligence Center||Reserve||2003||2006||?||Retired.|
|26||Redpath, Sharon H.Sharon H. Redpath||1976 (ROTC)||Vice Commander, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, Commander, Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group||Reserve||2003||2006||2009||Retired|
|27||Hight, Elizabeth A.Elizabeth A. Hight||1977 (OCS)||Vice Director, Defense Information Systems Agency||URL||2003||2006||?||Retired. First woman to Command the JTF-GNO, after serving as its Deputy Commander. First woman Vice Director at DISA.|
|28||Bruzek-Kohler, ChristineChristine Bruzek-Kohler||1974||Commander, Navy Medicine West, Naval Medical Center San Diego||Nurse Corps||2004||2009||2010||Retired. 21st Director of the Navy Nurse Corps.|
|29||Hunter, Christine S.Christine S. Hunter||1980||deputy director, TRICARE Management Activity||Medical||2004||2009||Retired.|
|30||Carpenter, Wendi B.Wendi B. Carpenter||1977 (AOCS)||Commander, Navy Warfare Development Command, Norfolk||Reserve||2004||2008||2011||Retired. First female naval aviator promoted to Flag rank.|
|31||Flaherty, KarenKaren Flaherty||1973 (OIS)||Deputy Surgeon General of Navy Medicine||Nurse Corps||2003||2008||Retired. 22nd Director of the Navy Nurse Corps.|
|32||Flanders, Moira N.Moira N. Flanders||1978 (OCS)||Director, Inter-American Defense College||URL||2005||2007||Retired.|
|33||Dussault, Kathleen M.Kathleen M. Dussault||1979 (OCS)||Director, Supply, Ordnance and Logistics Operations Division (OPNAV N41)||Supply Corps||2006||2009||Retired.|
|34||Hamby, Janice M.Janice M. Hamby||1980 (ROTC)||Vice Director for C4 Systems (J6)||URL, then Information Professional||2006||2009||2012||Retired.|
|35||Niemyer, Elizabeth S.Elizabeth S. Niemyer||1981||Director, Navy Nurse Corps||Nurse Corps||2008||2010||Retired. 23rd Director of the Navy Nurse Corps|
|36||Wolfe, Patricia E.Patricia E. Wolfe||1981 (ROTC)||Commander, Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group (NAVELSG)||Reserve, Supply Corps||2007||2010||Retired.|
|37||Covell, Cynthia A.Cynthia A. Covell||1980 (OCS)||Director, Total Force Requirements Division (OPNAV N12)||Navy Human Resources Officer||2008||2011||Retired.|
|38||Klein, Margaret D.Margaret D. Klein||1981 (USNA)||SENIOR ADVISOR TO THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR MILITARY PROFESSIONALISM||Naval Flight Officer||2008||2011||82nd Commandant of Midshipmen, USNA – first woman.|
|39||Daniels, Sandy L.Sandy L. Daniels||1980 (USNA)||SENIOR ADVISOR FOR SPACE TO THE DEPUTY CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS FOR INFORMATION DOMINANCE (OPNAV N2/N6)||Reserve||2007||2012||Retired.|
|40||Gregory, Katherine L.Katherine L. Gregory||1982 (USNA)||COMMANDER, NAVAL FACILITIES ENGINEERING COMMAND, CHIEF OF CIVIL ENGINEERS||CEC||2010||2012||First female CEC admiral.|
|41||Train, Elizabeth L.Elizabeth L. Train||1983 (OCS)||DIRECTOR, NATIONAL MARITIME INTELLIGENCE-INTEGRATION OFFICE, COMMANDER, OFFICE OF NAVAL INTELLIGENCE||Intelligence||2009||2012||Currently on active duty.|
|42||Brown, Paula C.Paula C. Brown||1982||DEPUTY COMMANDER, NAVAL FACILITIES ENGINEERING COMMAND, DEPUTY CHIEF OF CIVIL ENGINEERS||CEC||2010||2013||Currently on active duty.|
|43||Wagner, Elaine C.Elaine C. Wagner||1984||DEPUTY CHIEF, BUREAU OF MEDICINE AND SURGERY, WOUNDED, ILL AND INJURED||Dental Corps||2010||2013||Currently on active duty. Chief of the Naval Dental Corps, 2010 – present.|
|44||Coetzee, Althea H.Althea H. Coetzee||1985 (USNA)||DEPUTY DIRECTOR, CONTINGENCY CONTRACTING, DEFENSE PROCUREMENT AND ACQUISITION POLICY (DPAP), OSD (ACQUISITION TECHNOLOGY & LOGISTICS)||Supply Corps||2011||2014||Currently on active duty.|
|45||Donovan, Janet R.Janet R. Donovan||1983||DEPUTY JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL (RESERVE AFFAIRS & OPS)||JAG||2012||2014||Currently serving.|
|46||Herb, Martha E. G.Martha E. G. Herb||1979 (OCS)||RESERVE DEPUTY COMMANDER, NAVAL INSTALLATIONS COMMAND||Reserve||2010||2014||currently serving.|
|47||Huegel, Valerie K.Valerie K. Huegel||1980 (OCS)||COMMANDER, NAVY EXPEDITIONARY LOGISTICS SUPPORT GROUP||Supply Corps||2011||2014||Currently on active duty.|
|48||McCormick-Boyle, Rebecca J.Rebecca J. McCormick-Boyle||1981||Chief of Staff, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery||Nurse Corps||2011||2014||Currently on active duty.|
|49||Kibben, Margaret G.Margaret G. Kibben||1986 (OIS)||Chaplain of the United States Marine Corps, deputy chief of Navy Chaplains||Chaplain Corps||2010||2014||18th Chaplain of the USMC, first female chaplain at USNA.|
|50||Duerk, Alene B.Alene B. Duerk||1943||Director Navy Nurse Corps 1970–1975||Nurse Corps||1972||1975||First female admiral in the United States Navy. Director Navy Nurse Corps 1970–1975.|
|51||Conder, MaxineMaxine Conder||1951||Director, Navy Nurse Corps 1975–1979||Nurse Corps||1975||1979?||Director, Navy Nurse Corps.|
|52||Shea-Buckley, FrancesFrances Shea-Buckley||1951||14th Director, Navy Nurse Corps 1979–1983||Nurse Corps||1979||1983||14th Director, Navy Nurse Corps.|
|53||Hartington, PaulinePauline Hartington||1953||Commander, Naval Training Center Orlando||URL||1981||1983?||Second woman line officer selected for flag rank.|
|54||Hopper, GraceGrace Hopper||1944||Head, Training and Technology Directorate/Special Advisor to the Commander, Naval Data Automation Command||URL?||1983||1986||Co-inventor of COBOL. Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG-70) named for RADM Hopper.|
|55||Nielubowicz, Mary JoanMary Joan Nielubowicz||1951||15th Director, Navy Nurse Corps 1983–1987||Nurse Corps||1983||1987||Retired. 15th Director, Navy Nurse Corps.|
|56||Hall, Mary F.Mary F. Hall||1959||16th Director, Navy Nurse Corps 1987–1991||Nurse Corps||1987||1991||Retired. Director, Navy Nurse Corps.|
|57||Wilmot, Louise C.Louise C. Wilmot||1964||Commander, Naval Base Philadelphia −1994||URL||1988||1994||Retired. First woman to command a naval base.|
|58||Stratton, MariannMariann Stratton||1966||17th Director, Navy Nurse Corps 1991–1994||Nurse Corps||1991||1994||Retired. 17th Director, Navy Nurse Corps.|
|59||Ibach, Maryanne T. GallagherMaryanne T. Gallagher Ibach||1964||Reserve Nurse Corps||1990||1995||Retired. First Reserve flag officer for Navy Nurse Corps.|
|60||Laughton, Katharine L.Katharine L. Laughton||1963||Commander, Naval Space Command, Dahlgren, VA 1995–1997||Fleet Support||1993||1997||Retired.|
|61||Fackler, Nancy A.Nancy A. Fackler||1962||Deputy Director of the Navy Nurse Corps for Reserve Affairs||Reserve Nurse Corps||1994||1997||retired.|
|62||Barnes, Jacqueline O. (Allison)Jacqueline O. (Allison) Barnes||????||Director, On-Site Inspection Directorate 1998–2000||Fleet Support||1996||2000||Retired.|
|63||Fishburne, Lillian E.Lillian E. Fishburne||1973 (OCS)||Director, Information Transfer Division for the Space, Information Warfare, Command and Control Directorate ?-2001||URL||1998||2001||Retired. First African-American woman to achieve flag rank.|
|64||Drew, Marianne B.Marianne B. Drew||1967||Deputy Commander, Navy Personnel Command||Reserve, Fleet Support||1998||2002||Retired.|
|65||Mariano, EleanorEleanor Mariano||1977||White House Physician||Medical Corps||2000||2001||Retired. First Filipino-American flag officer.|
|66||Levitre, Rosanne M.Rosanne M. Levitre||1973 (OCS)||Director of Intelligence, J2, U.S. Joint Forces Command||Intelligence||2000||2005||Retired. First Director, Navy Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR), FORCEnet. First female Intel officer selected for flag rank in the United States Navy.|
|67||Turner, Carol I.Carol I. Turner||1977||Senior Health Care Executive, U.S. Navy Commander, Navy Medicine Support Command||Dental Corps||2003||2008?||Retired. First female Chief of the Naval Dental Corps, 2003–2007.|
|68||Loewer, DeborahDeborah Loewer||1976 (OCS)||Commander, Mine Warfare Command 2005–2006||Surface Warfare||2003||2007||Retired. First warfare-qualified woman selected for flag rank in the United States Navy.|
|69||Dullea, Cynthia A.Cynthia A. Dullea||1980 (OIS)||Deputy Commander, Navy Medicine National Capital Area||Reserve||2007||Retired.|
|70||Young, Maude ElizabethMaude Elizabeth Young||1984 (USNA)||Director, Systems Engineering National Reconnaissance Office; Commander, SPAWAR Space Field Activity (SSFA), PEO for Space Systems, USN||URL||2008||Retired.|
|71||Eleanor V. Valentin||1982||Director, Medical Service Corps, Commander, Navy Medicine Support Command, Jacksonville, Florida||MSC||2009||Retired. 16th director of the Medical Service Corps (first female director)|
|72||Graf, Robin L.Robin L. Graf||1981 (OCS)||Deputy Commander, Navy Recruiting Command||URL||2009||Retired.|
|73||Webber, Diane E. H.Diane E. H. Webber||?||COMMANDER, NAVY CYBER FORCES||URL||2009||Currently on active duty.|
|74||Phillips, Ann ClaireAnn Claire Phillips||1983 (ROTC)||Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group Two||Surface Warfare||2010||Retired.|
|75||Herbert, Gretchen S.Gretchen S. Herbert||1984 (ROTC)||Assistant Chief of Naval Operations, Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN)||URL||2010||Retired.|
|76||Rykowski, Margaret A.Margaret A. Rykowski||1987||Fleet Surgeon, Third Fleet||NNC||2010||Retired.|
|77||Adams, Sandra E.Sandra E. Adams||1981 (OCS)||Deputy Commander, Naval Expeditionary Combat Command||URL (SWO)||2011||Currently on active duty.|
|78||Bono, Raquel C.Raquel C. Bono||1979||DIRECTOR, NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION MEDICAL DIRECTORATE, CHIEF, NAVY MEDICAL CORPS||Medical Corps||2011||Currently on active duty.|
|79||Andrews, Annie B.Annie B. Andrews||?? (ROTC)||COMMANDER, NAVY RECRUITING COMMAND||Navy Human Resources Officer||2011||Currently on active duty.|
|80||Jaynes, Cindy L.Cindy L. Jaynes||1983 (OCS)||PROGRAM EXECUTIVE OFFICER FOR AIR ASW, ASSAULT & SPECIAL MISSION PROGRAMS, PEO(A)||AMDO||2011||Currently on active duty.|
|81||Alvarado, Christina M.Christina M. Alvarado||1988||Deputy Commander, Navy Medicine East||Nurse Corps||2013||Currently on active duty.|
|82||Bolivar, BabetteBabette Bolivar||COMMANDER, NAVY REGION NORTHWEST||EOD||2013||Currently on active duty.|
|83||Coe, Priscilla B.Priscilla B. Coe||DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF, BUREAU OF MEDICINE AND SURGERY, DEPUTY CHIEF, NAVY RESERVE DENTAL CORPS||Dental Corps||2013||Currently on active duty.|
|84||Franchetti, LisaLisa Franchetti||1985 (NROTC)||COMMANDER, U.S. NAVAL FORCES KOREA, COMMANDER, U.S. NAVY REGION KOREA||SWO||2013||Currently on active duty.|
|85||Grocki, Alma M.Alma M. Grocki||1981 (USNA)||DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF FOR FLEET MAINTENANCE, COMMANDER, U.S. PACIFIC FLEET||Reserve EDO||2013||Currently serving.|
|86||Haven, Deborah P.Deborah P. Haven||COMMANDER, DEFENSE CONTRACT MANAGEMENT AGENCY INTERNATIONAL||Reserve Supply Corps||2013||Currently serving.|
|87||Norton, Nancy A.Nancy A. Norton||1987 (OCS)||DIRECTOR FOR COMMAND, CONTROL, COMMUNICATIONS AND CYBER, U.S. PACIFIC COMMAND||URL||2013||Currently on active duty.|
|88||Sweredoski, BarbaraBarbara Sweredoski||1985 (NROTC)||RESERVE DEPUTY, MILITARY PERSONNEL PLANS & POLICY N13R||HR||2013||Currently serving.|
|89||Thebaud, CynthiaCynthia Thebaud||1985 (USNA)||COMMANDER, LOGISTICS GROUP WESTERN PACIFIC, COMMANDER, TASK FORCE 73, SINGAPORE AREA COORDINATOR||SWO||2013||Currently on active duty.|
|90||Roseanne Roberts||1962||Helicopter captain, HC-3, Naval Air Force Pacific,||HC-3||?||?||?||?||?||Retired|
- Timeline of women in warfare in Colonial America
- Timeline of women in warfare in the United States before 1900
- Timeline of women in warfare in the United States from 1900 to 1949
- Timeline of women in warfare in the United States from 1950 to 1999
- Timeline of women in warfare in the United States since 2000
- United States Navy Nurse Corps
- United States Marine Corps Women's Reserve
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Women in the United States Navy.|
- "Michelle J. Howard becomes Navy's first female 4-star admiral - Washington Times". m.washingtontimes.com. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
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- "Celebrating Character Courage & Commitment – Women's History Month 2014" (PDF). 5 March 2014. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
- Robert J. Martin; Joe B. Havens (1 January 1997). Chief: The Evolution, Development and Role of the Chief Petty Officer in the United States Naval Service. Turner Publishing Company. pp. 41–. ISBN 978-1-56311-248-5.
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- Hancock, Joy Bright Captain, U.S. Navy (Retired) (1972). Lady in the Navy: A Personal Reminiscence. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-336-9.
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- Sea Services Leadership Association supporting motivated Sea Service officers since 1978. (Formerly Women Officers Professional Association.)
- Women Redefined - a Facebook Page for Women in the Navy
- Women in the Navy Flickr Images
- Navy For Moms Community