Women Can Now Serve In Combat Roles In The U.S. Armed Forces

Photo: Branden Camp/AP Photo.
In a historic press conference today, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that all combat roles will now be open to women.

In January 2013, the Pentagon issued a mandate that would allow women to take on combat roles starting January 1, 2016, or qualify any exceptions. After two years of studies, Secretary Carter determined there should be no exceptions, despite a request from the Marine Corps.

In the press conference, Secretary Carter conceded that on average, men and women have different physical standards, but he put an emphasis on the word "average," pointing out there are women and men who can't meet the tough requirements of the Marines.

He also emphasized that combat effectiveness is key. The U.S. military is a meritocracy, he argued, where the most qualified soldier should get the job, regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation.

There have been some changes in the past few years that make careers in the armed forces more appealing to women. In July, the Navy expanded its maternity leave policy to 18 weeks for women who serve in the Navy and Marine Corps. And in August, two women graduated from the Army Ranger School for the first time in history. With Secretary Carter's announcement, the two female graduates will now be able to apply for the combat roles they qualified for when they graduated.

This change opens more than 10% of military jobs that were once closed to women. In the next decade, we will see women drive tanks and shoot missiles, jump out of planes, and lead covert operations. Secretary Carter expressed his belief that allowing women to take on these roles will only strengthen the U.S. military, and while the change will not be obvious overnight, it will certainly be groundbreaking.

Click here and here for more stories on the huge strides women have been making in the U.S. Armed Forces.

More from Work & Money

The morning at my insurance firm was hectic. My first appointment after lunch was a balding man in his mid-50s. I smiled at him warmly and attempted ...
9:30 p.m. — HANGRY. Get home and eat canned soup and watch Netflix before bed
Any recent grads freaking out about their job prospects need not fear: Apparently the demand for exorcists has never been higher. The Telegraph reports ...
Refinery29 joined the Clinton Foundation for a tour of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to get a firsthand look at the experiences of the women and girls who live ...
9:45 a.m. — Starbucks reward, bitches! OBV I get the most expensive thing that I can concoct. A Venti 5 shot soy latte. Yum
Four years ago, my life was exactly where I wanted it: I was working as a senior editor at a major glossy magazine. My first young adult novel had just ...
After months of waiting and countless discussions about what the future holds for our favorite television characters, Shondaland shows are finally back. ...
You know what's easy? Spending money. It's the best way to get what you want right now. Except...this is not sustainable. Those little luxuries add up ...
Just after my son’s first birthday, I was on the phone with my mom, grappling over a gut-wrenching decision. I was scheduled to go on a business trip but...
I get so nervous before job interviews — sweaty palms, dry mouth, butterflies in my stomach. It’s really not fun. But once I’m sitting down with the ...
Fifty percent off your purchase here. 1,000 free miles there. When it comes to credit cards, the benefits are easy to see — while the downsides are often ...
As the host of RIOT's Woke Bae, we already know comedian Phoebe Robinson is funny AF while getting serious about major issues like feminism and ...
If the new phrase for the office BFF is the "work wife," then is a good boss or mentor your "work mom" or "work dad"? Part authority figure, part dispenser...
12:45 p.m. — I have a dryer, rare in Shanghai, so my friend runs home to get his laundry and then does a load at my place