On March 4th the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) met to discuss the Administration’s goal of achieving gender equality for individuals who serve in our Nation’s Armed Forces. Established in 1951, DACOWITS is a non partisan committee composed of civilian women and men who are appointed by the Secretary of Defense. The group provides advice and recommendations on matters and policies relating to the recruitment, retention, treatment, employment, integration, and well-being of highly qualified professional women in the Armed Forces. The group is comprised of a diverse group of no more than 35 members, all of whom have received specialized training on Service issues and can provide meaningful feedback regarding the advancement of women in the military.
In the past, DACOWITS has successfully eradicated policies that prevent qualified women from serving to their full potential. Accomplishments include: Eliminating statutory restrictions on the promotion of women officers, opening service academies to all qualified candidates, equalizing the minimum admission eligibility standards to the Services for men and women, establishing a gender neutral assignment policy in military aviation for all Services, and most recently, including appropriate berthing and privacy arrangements for mixed gender submarine crews.
DACOWITS meets quarterly to discuss the study topics and to formulate their recommendations for the year. During this week’s meeting, the Committee finalized the 2010 Report, which includes a recommendation that more gender related research on PTSD in women be conducted. In 2011, DACOWITS plans to focus on sexual assault resources, weapons training, and the integration of women into combat roles.
It is the administration’s hope that Committees like DACOWTIS will allow women to pursue rich and fulfilling careers in the Armed Services.
Col. Adrienne Fraser Darling is the Military Director in the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Armed Services