Admiral was the first female four-star admiral in the U.S. Navy. She was also the ' first African-American woman to achieve four stars.
Many women have served in the 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 . The 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 "" because they were the first women to serve formally as members of the . The "Sacred Twenty" were Mary H. Du Bose; Adah M. Pendleton; Elizabeth M. Hewitt; Della V. Knight; ; ; , 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 . For a few months in 1913, Navy nurses saw their first shipboard service, aboard and .
World War I
The increased size of the in support of 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 asked, "Is there any law that says a must be a man?" and was told there was not. Thus, the navy was able to induct its first female sailors into the . The first woman to enlist in the U.S. Navy was 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 , 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
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). served in varied positions around the continental U.S. and in Hawaii. See .
Two groups of navy nurses were held prisoner by the Japanese in . Chief Nurse Marion Olds and nurses , Lorraine Christiansen, Virginia Fogerty and Doris Yetter were taken prisoner on Guam shortly after and transported to Japan. They were repatriated in August 1942, although the newspaper did not identify them as navy nurses. Chief Nurse 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 "") were captured in 1942 and imprisoned in the , 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 by the army, a second award by the navy and the army's Distinguished Unit Badge. , one of the , nearly became a POW; she was one of the last to escape , via the . Upon her return to the United States she became the first American to receive the .
In 1943, , an engineering draftsman, became the first woman assigned to perform duties aboard a United States Navy ship as part of her official responsibilities.
WAVES Recruiting posters
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. 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 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 1972, Roseann Roberts became the first female helicopter plane captain in the navy.
In 1973 the announced the authorization of naval aviation training for women. LTJG was the first woman selected for flight training. In 1974, the navy became the first service to graduate a woman pilot, LT , followed closely by classmates , Ana Marie Fuqua, , and Joellen Drag.
Women began attending in 1976.
In 1979 the (NFO) program opened to women.
Also in 1979, LT Lynn Spruill became the first woman naval aviator to obtain carrier qualification.
, (1973), was a 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 (ROTC) was opened to women in 1972 and the first woman was commissioned from a ROTC program in 1974. The Women Officer School (WOS), , was disestablished in 1973, and (OCS) training was integrated to support men and women. The , along with the other military academies, first accepted women in 1976 and commissioned its first female graduates in 1980. Women also began attending in 1976.
On 29 April 2010, the announced authorization of a policy change allowing women to begin serving on board 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 , , program and , 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 () and ballistic-missile submarines (). Two submarines of each type served as the inaugural vessels. The first group of U.S. female submariners completed nuclear power school and officially reported on board two ballistic and two guided missile submarines in November 2011. In 2012, it was announced that 2013 would be the first year for women to serve on U.S. attack submarines. On 22 June 2012, a sailor assigned to 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 and became the first female unrestricted line officers to qualify in U.S. submarines. Lt. j.g. Jennifer Noonan [ROTC Cornell University], a native of Scituate MA, and Lt. j.g. Amber Cowan both of Maine's Blue Crew, and Lt. j.g. Marquette Leveque, a native of Fort Collins, Colo., assigned to the Gold Crew of Wyoming, and received their submarine "dolphins" during separate ceremonies at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Wash. and Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga. respectively. In 2013, Navy Secretary 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 August 2016, Dominique Saavedra became the first enlisted female sailor to earn her submarine qualification, and was assigned to .
In 1972 the pilot program for assignment of officers and enlisted women to ships was initiated on board 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 1993, 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 NavyYear Event 1908 The was established; it was all-female until 1965. 1917 Secretary of the Navy announced that the navy would enlist women on 17 March. 1917 became the first woman to enlist in the navy on 17 March. 1942 President signed the Public Law 689 creating the navy’s women reserve program on 30 July 1942. 1942 Lieutenant Commander , USNR, director of the , 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 , the director of the , became the first female captain in the navy. 1948 On 15 October 1948, the first eight women were commissioned in the regular Navy: , , Ann King, Frances Willoughby, Ellen Ford, Doris Cranmore, Doris Defenderfer, and Betty Rae Tennant took their oaths as naval officers. 1959 Yeoman 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 became the first female helicopter captain in the Navy. 1972 became the first female admiral in the navy. 1973 , (1973), was a 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 became the first navy woman to earn her wings on 22 February 1974. 1974 The first women were commissioned through . 1975 , 498 (1975), was a United States Supreme Court case that upheld a federal statute granting female naval officers four more years of commissioned service before mandatory than male Naval officers. A federal statute granted female Naval officers fourteen years of commissioned service while allowing only nine years of commissioned service for male Naval officers before mandatory discharge. The Supreme Court held that the law passed analysis because women, excluded from combat duty, had fewer opportunities for advancement in the military. The Court found the statute to directly compensate for the past statutory barriers to advancement. 1976 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 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 . 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 . 1990 Rear Admiral became the first woman to command a Naval Station. 1990 Lieutenant Commander Darlene Iskra became the first navy woman to command a ship, . 1991 The 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. 1993 Before the "" 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 "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy was ended in 2011, service members (including but not limited to female 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. 1995 is the first destroyer to be built to accommodate females. 1996 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 became the first African-American woman promoted to flag rank in the navy. 2006 became the first woman to command an expeditionary strike group in the navy. 2010 became the first woman to command a carrier strike group in the navy. 2011 The "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy was ended in 2011, thus putting an end to service members (including but not limited to female service members) being 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. 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, Colorado, 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 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 became the first female four-star admiral in the navy. 2014 became the first woman to command a numbered fleet when she assumed command of the navy's Tenth Fleet on April 2, 2014. 2014 In July 2014, Marine Corps Captain Katie Higgins became the first female pilot to join the , the navy's flight demonstration squadron. She piloted the team's KC-130 Hercules support aircraft, "Fat Albert." 2015 was installed as the commander of the navy’s Third Fleet, making her the first woman to lead a navy operational fleet. 2015 Cheryl Hansen became the first female commander of the 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 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). 2016 In August 2016, Dominique Saavedra became the first enlisted female sailor to earn her submarine qualification. 2018 Beginning on January 1, 2018, openly transgender people (including but not limited to transgender women) were allowed to join the military.
In the navy, women are currently eligible to serve in all ratings. In 2013 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."
Careers in the navy
- 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. 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. On July 11, 2018 Navy women became allowed to wear their hair in ponytails, locks, wider buns and at times below their collars, although subject to strict guidelines on the matter.
- 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 () 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 and 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
, (1973), was a 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 and parenting resources
- Pregnant servicewomen may remain on board 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.
Beginning on January 1, 2018, openly transgender people (including but not limited to transgender women) were allowed to join the military.
In her 1995 book Tailspin: Women at War in the Wake of Tailhook, 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 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 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 on a Naval (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 "" 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 on board 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 announced that he and the 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 approved the proposed policy and signed letters formally notifying Congress of the intended change. After receiving no objection, the officially announced on 29 April 2010, that it had authorized women to serve on board submarines moving forward.
The first group of U.S. female submariners completed nuclear power school and officially reported on board two ballistic and two guided missile submarines in November 2011.
became the first female admiral in the navy in 1972. became the first female four-star admiral in the navy in 2014.Name Commission Position Community RDML RADM VADM ADM Retired Notes 1 1982 (USNA) Vice Chief of Naval Operations Surface Warfare 2006 2010 2012 2014 2017 Retired. 2 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 1974 (OCS) President, National Defense University Fleet Support 1999 2002 2005 2012 Retired. 4 1974 (OCS) Director for C4 Systems (J6) URL 2000 2003 2006 2009 Retired. 5 1977 (ROTC) Deputy Chief of Staff for Capability and Development, Surface Warfare 2003 2007 2010 2013 Retired. 6 1984 (OIS) JAG 2009 2009 2012 2015 Retired. 7 1980 Chief of /Commander, Navy Reserve Force Reserve, Naval Aviator 2007 2011 2012 2016 Retired. 8 1979 (OCS) Commander, US Third Fleet Naval Flight Officer 2007 2011 2013 2017 First woman to command a carrier strike group. 9 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. 78 1979 Director, Defense Health Agency Medical Corps 2011 2014 2015 Currently on active duty. 11 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 12 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). 13 1967 Superintendent of the Naval Postgraduate School 1995–1998 Fleet Support 1992 1996 1998 Retired. 14 1969 18th Director, Navy Nurse Corps 1994–1998 SHCE (Nurse Corps) 1994 1997 2000 18th Director, Navy Nurse Corps. 15 1970 (OCS) Provost, Naval War College 2000–2002 URL 1994 1998 2002 Notes. 16 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. 17 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. 18 1971 Program Director, Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense 2003–2005 Engineering Duty Officer 1996 2001 2005 Retired. 19 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. 20 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. 21 1974 (OCS) Commander, Navy Region Southeast (2002) Fleet Support 1999 2002 2005 Retired. 22 1974 (OCS) Director, Supply, Ordnance and Logistics Operations Division, N41 2003–2005 Supply Corps 1999 2002? 2005 Retired. 23 1973 (OIS) Deputy Chief for Reserve Affairs at the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery 2005–2006? SHCE (Nurse Corps) 2001 2004 2006 Retired. 24 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. 25 1974 (OCS) Commander, Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command URL 2001 2005 Retired. 26 1978 (OCS) Director, National Maritime Intelligence Center Reserve 2003 2006 ? Retired. 27 1976 (ROTC) Vice Commander, , Commander, Reserve 2003 2006 2009 Retired 28 1977 (OCS) Vice Director, URL 2003 2006 ? Retired. First woman to Command the JTF-GNO, after serving as its Deputy Commander. First woman Vice Director at DISA. 29 1974 Commander, Navy Medicine West, Nurse Corps 2004 2009 2010 Retired. 21st Director of the Navy Nurse Corps. 30 1980 deputy director, TRICARE Management Activity Medical 2004 2009 Retired. 31 1977 (AOCS) Commander, , Norfolk Reserve 2004 2008 2011 Retired. First female naval aviator promoted to Flag rank. 32 1973 (OIS) Deputy Surgeon General of Navy Medicine Nurse Corps 2003 2008 Retired. 22nd Director of the Navy Nurse Corps. 33 1978 (OCS) Director, Inter-American Defense College URL 2005 2007 Retired. 34 1979 (OCS) Director, Supply, Ordnance and Logistics Operations Division (OPNAV N41) Supply Corps 2006 2009 Retired. 35 1980 (ROTC) Vice Director for C4 Systems (J6) URL, then Information Professional 2006 2009 2012 Retired. 36 1981 Director, Navy Nurse Corps Nurse Corps 2008 2010 Retired. 23rd Director of the Navy Nurse Corps 37 1981 (ROTC) Commander, Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group (NAVELSG) Reserve, Supply Corps 2007 2010 Retired. 38 1980 (OCS) Director, Total Force Requirements Division (OPNAV N12) Navy Human Resources Officer 2008 2011 Retired. 39 1981 (USNA) Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Defense for Military Professionalism Naval Flight Officer 2008 2011 2017 82nd Commandant of Midshipmen, USNA – first woman. 40 1980 (USNA) Senior Advisor for Space to the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance (OPNAV N2/N6) Reserve 2007 2012 Retired. 41 1982 (USNA) Commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Chief of Civil Engineers CEC 2010 2012 First female CEC admiral. 42 1983 (OCS) Director, National Maritime Intelligence-Integration Office, Commander, Office of Naval Intelligence Intelligence 2009 2012 Currently on active duty. 43 1982 Deputy Commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Deputy Chief of Civil Engineers CEC 2010 2013 Currently on active duty. 44 1984 Deputy Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Wounded, Ill and Injured Dental Corps 2010 2013 2017 Retired. Chief of the Naval Dental Corps, 2010 – 2017. 45 1985 (USNA) Deputy Director, Contingency Contracting, Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy (DPAP), OSD (Acquisition Technology & Logistics) Supply Corps 2011 2014 Currently on active duty. 46 1983 Deputy Judge Advocate General (Reserve Affairs & OPS) JAG 2012 2014 Currently serving. 47 1979 (OCS) Director Inter-American Defense College Reserve 2010 2014 Currently on active duty. 48 1980 (OCS) Commander, Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group Supply Corps 2011 2014 Currently on active duty. 49 1981 Chief of Staff, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Nurse Corps 2011 2014 Currently on active duty. 50 1986 (OIS) , deputy chief of Navy Chaplains Chaplain Corps 2010 2014 18th Chaplain of the USMC, first female chaplain at USNA. 51 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. 52 1951 Director, Navy Nurse Corps 1975–1979 Nurse Corps 1975 1979? Director, Navy Nurse Corps. 53 1951 14th Director, Navy Nurse Corps 1979–1983 Nurse Corps 1979 1983 14th Director, Navy Nurse Corps. 54 1953 Commander, Naval Training Center Orlando URL 1981 1983? Second woman line officer selected for flag rank. 55 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 named for RADM Hopper. 56 1951 15th Director, Navy Nurse Corps 1983–1987 Nurse Corps 1983 1987 Retired. 15th Director, Navy Nurse Corps. 57 1959 16th Director, Navy Nurse Corps 1987–1991 Nurse Corps 1987 1991 Retired. Director, Navy Nurse Corps. 58 1964 Commander, Naval Base Philadelphia −1994 URL 1988 1994 Retired. First woman to command a naval base. 59 1966 17th Director, Navy Nurse Corps 1991–1994 Nurse Corps 1991 1994 Retired. 17th Director, Navy Nurse Corps. 60 1964 Reserve Nurse Corps 1990 1995 Retired. First Reserve flag officer for Navy Nurse Corps. 61 1963 Commander, , Dahlgren, VA 1995–1997 Fleet Support 1993 1997 Retired. 62 1962 Deputy Director of the Navy Nurse Corps for Reserve Affairs Reserve Nurse Corps 1994 1997 retired. 63 ???? Director, On-Site Inspection Directorate 1998–2000 Fleet Support 1996 2000 Retired. 64 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. 65 1967 Deputy Commander, Navy Personnel Command Reserve, Fleet Support 1998 2002 Retired. 66 1977 White House Physician Medical Corps 2000 2001 Retired. First Filipino-American flag officer. 67 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. 68 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. 69 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. 70 1980 (OIS) Deputy Commander, Navy Medicine National Capital Area Reserve 2007 Retired. 71 1984 (USNA) Director, Systems Engineering ; Commander, Space Field Activity (SSFA), for Space Systems, USN URL 2008 Retired. 72 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) 73 1981 (OCS) Deputy Commander, Navy Recruiting Command URL 2009 Retired. 74 ? Commander, Navy Cyber Forces URL 2009 Currently on active duty. 75 1983 (ROTC) Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group Two Surface Warfare 2010 Retired. 76 1984 (ROTC) Assistant Chief of Naval Operations, Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) URL 2010 Retired. 77 1987 Fleet Surgeon, Third Fleet NNC 2010 Retired. 78 1981 (OCS) Deputy Commander, Naval Expeditionary Combat Command URL (SWO) 2011 Currently on active duty. 79 ?? (ROTC) Commander, Navy Recruiting Command Navy Human Resources Officer 2011 Currently on active duty. 80 1983 (OCS) Program Executive Officer for Air ASW, Assault & Special Mission Programs, PEO(A) AMDO 2011 Currently on active duty. 81 1988 Deputy Commander, Navy Medicine East Nurse Corps 2013 Currently on active duty. 82 Commander, Navy Region Northwest EOD 2013 Currently on active duty. 83 Deputy Chief of Staff, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Deputy Chief, Navy Reserve Dental Corps Dental Corps 2013 Currently on active duty. 84 1985 (NROTC) Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea, Commander, U.S. Navy Region Korea SWO 2013 Currently on active duty. 85 1981 (USNA) Deputy Chief of Staff for Fleet Maintenance, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet Reserve EDO 2013 Currently serving. 86 Commander, Defense Contract Management Agency International Reserve Supply Corps 2013 Currently serving. 87 1987 (OCS) Commander, Joint Forces Headquarters - Department of Defense Information Network (JFHQ-DODIN); Director of the Defense Information Agency (DISA) URL 2013 2016 2018 Currently on active duty. 88 Barbara Sweredoski 1985 (NROTC) Reserve Deputy, Military Personnel Plans & Policy N13R HR 2013 Currently serving. 89 1985 (USNA) Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific, Commander, Task Force 73, Singapore Area Coordinator SWO 2013 Currently on active duty. 90 1989 (NROTC) Chief of Information (CHINFO) PAO 2016 Retired August 2017. 91 Danelle Barrett 1989 (NROTC) Cyber Security Division Director/Deputy Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer IDWO 2017 Currently on active duty. 92 Roseanne Roberts 1962 Helicopter captain, HC-3, Naval Air Force Pacific, HC-3 Retired 93 19?? (NROTC) Deputy Director of Intelligence, U.S. Forces Afghanistan/Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Headquarters Resolute Support Currently on active duty.
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