Women in the Military


196,116 women were listed in the active duty force, which was 12.9 percent female, in 1995.(8)

211,874 women were listed in the ready reserve personnel (those who would serve during war), which was 16 percent female, in 1998. 171,733 women were enlisted and 40,141 women were officers. (7)

Female military personnel on active duty increased from 41,479 (1.4 percent) in 1970 to 196,116 (12.9 percent) in 1995. (8)

Female Army personnel on active duty increased from 16,724 (1.3 percent) in 1970 to 68,046 (13.4 percent) in 1995. (8)

Female Air Force personnel on active duty increased from 13,654 (1.7 percent) in 1970 to 64,147 (16 percent) in 1995 (8)

Female Navy personnel on active duty increased from 8,683 (1.3 percent) in 1970 to 55,830 (12.8 percent) in 1995. (8)

Female Marine personnel on active duty increase from 2,418 (.9 percent) in 1970 to 8,093 (4.6 percent) in 1995. (8)

Female Military Personnel on Active Duty by Grade, September 1998 (8):

Rank/Grade Army Air Force Navy Marine Corps Total
Officers 10,367 11,971 7,777 854 30,969
Enlisted 60,787 53,542 42,261 8,928 165,518
Cadets & midshipmen 624 653 656   ____ 1,933
Grand total 71,778 66,166 50,694 9,782 198,420

Female pilots:

Women first began entering pilot training in 1976, fighter pilot training in July 1993, and navigator training in 1977. (2)

The Navy had 246 female pilots, 108 female naval flight officers, 102 female student pilots, and 72 female student naval flight officers in July 1996.  (9)

The Army had 38 female pilots in 1996. (1)

The Air Force had 10 female pilots and three women training in 1996. (1)

The Marine Corps had one female pilot and 11 women in training in 1996. (1)

Positions open to women:

The recent repeal of combat exclusion provided the increased military services opportunities available to women. (1)

91 percent of Army jobs are open to women; 96 percent of Navy jobs are open to women; 93 percent of Marine Corps jobs are open to women; 99 percent of Air Force jobs are open to women. (1)

The positions closed to women in the Navy are those on submarines and PC's due to prohibitive habitability modification costs. (4)

The positions closed to women in SEALs and Marine support fall under the direct ground combat exclusion or collocation exclusion. (4)

Women in leadership positions:

The Air Force had a female secretary and six female generals in 1996. (1) 

The Army had five female general officers in 1996. (1)

The Navy had five women admirals in 1996 (1). Fourteen women served as flag officers in 1999. Six women commanded combatants ships, two women were in command of non-combatant ships, and one woman was in command of a construction battalions in 1999. (4)

The Marine Corps had one female general in 1996. (1)

Women in the astronaut program:

The Air Force had four women in the astronaut program, while the Navy had one woman in the program in 1996. (1)

Air Force:

17 percent of the Air Force were women, who made up 16 percent of the officers and 17 percent of the enlisted in 1997. (2)

The population of women has increased from 33,000 (5.4 percent) in 1975 to 64,699 in 1996. (2)


Enlisted personnel included 44,131 women (13.6 percent of personnel) and active-duty personnel included 51,947 women (13.7 percent of personnel) in 1999. (3)

Women made up 14.3 percent of all officers with 7,816 female officers in 1999. (3)

Ship assignment in the military:

All ships are open to women except submarines and Coastal Patrol ships. Enlisted women are assigned to ships that are built from the keel up to accommodate women or to ships that receive required habitability modifications. Women officers are not constrained by the modification requirements and may be permanently assigned to any ship except those specifically closed to women.(3)

Women are assigned to 106 combatants and 49 non-combatants ships. (3)

21 combatant ships have only female officers assigned. (3)

During 2001-2002, an additional airwing and 20 ships are scheduled to open for enlisted women. (3)

Marine Corps:

768 women account for 4.3 percent of all Marine officers and 8,051 women make up 5.1 percent of the active duty enlisted force in the Marine Corps. (5)

Leaving the military:

About 70 percent of the men who leave during the first term [prior to the end of the full term of enlistment], leave because of misconduct or bad conduct, medical conditions, performance problems or drug use. (6) 

Over 71 percent of the women who separate during the first term leave because of pregnancy, medical problems, misconduct, performance shortfalls or parenthood. (6)


1- Defense Issues: Volume 11, Number 31-- Women Play Crucial Role in Nation's Defense, Executive summary of "Women in Defense -- DoD Leading the Way," a Defense Department report released in March 1996., http://www.defenselink.mil:80/speeches/1996/s19960301-report2.html.


3-Bureau of Naval Personnel , http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/people/women/winfact1.html, Dec. 31, 1999.

4-Bureau of Naval Personnel, http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/people/women/winfact2.html, Dec. 31, 1999

5- http://www.usmc.mil/info.nsf/Women

6- http://www.defenselink.mil:80/news/Aug1998/t08131998_t0813asd.html

7- U.S. Dept. of Defense, Official Guard and Reserve Manpower Strengths and Statistics, annual.

8- U.S. Department of Defense statistics printed in the 2000 Time Almanac.

9- http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/people/women/winfact1.html

Back to the Statistics Page

Home * Search This Site

Book Reviews * Legislation * Library * Media * Public Opinion Polls