Future for Army Women is Bright, Secretary Says

Future for Army Women is Bright, Secretary Says

SecArmy Wormuth speaks at AUSA 2021
Photo by: Rod Lamkey for AUSA

Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, the first woman to serve as the Army’s top civilian leader, said she hopes to continue setting an example for women in the service. 

“I hope by setting an example of what's possible as a woman in the Army, [that] that will hopefully inspire and motivate younger women in the Army who are just beginning their careers,” Wormuth said during the Army Women’s Foundation Leadership Symposium at the Association of the U.S. Army’s 2021 Annual Meeting and Exposition. 

There are more than 74,000 women who serve on active duty in the Army, according to 2021 data from DoD, and the number of women who serve will grow as the Army continues to get more diverse. 

The Army has made a number of changes in the past year to accommodate women in uniform. In January, the Army announced new grooming standards. In March, the Army extended its postpartum grace period for soldiers to one year, and in October the service announced that it will excuse women from wearing their dress uniforms for up to a year after giving birth. 

Wormuth praised some of the recent changes the Army has made. “It's always going to be challenging, but to make it easier, for example, to have a family in the Army, we've got maternity leave now, we've got policies that enable you to recover physically from childbirth before you've got to take that next PT test, and … we have paternity leave.” 

Wormuth said she is particularly proud of how women can now serve in all combat arms positions. 

“I think it is incredibly important and will really contribute to a brighter future for women in the Army,” Wormuth said. “I felt strongly about that when I came into the Pentagon in the mid-1990s. I thought to myself, ‘We’re never going to have a four-star female chief of staff of the Army if combat arms is not opened up to women.’ ” 

Moving forward, Wormuth said that women in the Army will continue to be trailblazers. 

“When I look at the future for the whole Army, but particularly for women in the Army, I think it was really bright,” Wormuth said. “Although it will take a while for the fruits of that tree to sort of come to bear, I'm already seeing changes.” 

— Karli Goldenberg