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A recent report by the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) shows that more women are in senior enlisted and officer ranks as more are pursuing careers in the military. There were 30 female admirals and generals on active duty in the five services in fiscal 2000. In 2018, there were 63 females occupying senior positions in the military. The increase of female representation is credited to more women staying in the military and more opportunities being made available, such as military occupational specialties.
Senior Enlisted Pay Grades
The percentage of women in the three senior enlisted pay grades was less than 4 percent in 1988 to 11.8 percent. As of February 2018, women comprised 11.8 percent of these ranks in the Army; 20.3 percent in the Air Force; 11.6 percent in the Navy; 5.6 percent in the Marine Corps; and 8.7 percent in the Coast Guard.
Colonels and Captains
In terms of colonels and Navy captains, women made up less than 2 percent of these positions in the 1980s. In 2018, these figures were
- 10.6 for the Army;
- 11.6 percent for the Navy;
- 14.1 percent for the Air Force;
- 2.3 percent for the Marine Corps; and
- 11 percent for the Coast Guard.
Surge of Minority Women
The report notes that a significant portion of women in the enlisted and officer ranks in the military are minorities. In February 2018, 61 percent of enlisted women in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps were minorities, and 38 percent of female officers.
African-Americans also comprised a higher percentage of military women, at 25.6 percent, than military men, at 14.5 percent. The percentage of Latina women in the military has increased from 12 percent in 2011 to 17.8 percent in 2018.
All in all, the percentage of women in active-duty has grown since the end of the draft—from 1.6 percent in 1973 to 16.3 percent in 2018. Currently 210,000 women were on active duty in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines last year, and 5,955 were on active duty in the Coast Guard.
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