Posted by: outandequal | March 13, 2012

Women in the Military – Reflections During Women’s History Month

Pat Baillie, Associate Director of Training

by Pat Baillie, Associate Director, Training & Professional Development | Women have been part of the military for many years–sometimes as nurses, and sometimes dressing as men to fight battles. In 1983, when I was in the Air Force, they opened up several positions for women to serve in combat positions. Over the years, women have moved closer and closer to the front lines, and today they are integrated into most units and military services.

We still hear discussions about women’s ability to handle combat situations, and what would men do if a woman was captured with them. But, just like we have seen with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’s repeal, most of the thoughts around how good someone is in combat, based on being LGB or a woman, is based on stereotypes or biases, and are proven wrong under real-time war situations.

This month, as we honor women in all their roles in society, we see the military providing positive images and chronicling the experience of women in the military. This is a great opportunity to see how women are in the workplace called the military, and how they are navigating and succeeding, facing challenges, and finding inner strength. The US Navy Institute put out a newsletter with recommended readings and I thought this was great link to share!

As we take down the barriers to success–whether as women, people of color, or LGBT–we find a common human experience, and can learn from each other as we talk about our perspectives and reactions.



  1. Pat – this is a very important topic and we have a lot of essential work to do. As you state: we need to focus on the “common human experience” so that we can “learn from each other as we talk about our perspectives and reactions.” I find in stories, this is where we understand that common experience best.

    I came out the day after Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell was repealed and shared my story at the Out & Equal 2011 Conference just a few weeks later. Discussions need to continue and stories need to be shared. Together we will make sure progress is pursued through integrity and fidelity in service and self.

    • Excellent points and thanks for encouragement! I know I was amazed at the OutServe conference last year to see the energy, freedom and strength of those still on active duty. It was a far cry from those DADT early days and fear. I think there will still be some bumps along the road to full equality but it is exciting to see the changes happening. I hope you consider a workshop for the Annual Summit this year in Baltimore to continue these discussions (the link is! Take care and thanks for keeping the dream moving forward!


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