Changing How We Think About Women in the Military and Government

This midterm election cycle saw that female candidates not only ran for more offices, but also won more congressional seats than ever before in American history. The share of women in the DOD is at 18.3 percent with a steady increase since the mid-2000s. And of course, we can’t forget about the powerhouse that is Ruth Bader Ginsburg or how Hillary Clinton stood her ground in the 2016 election. Young girls of today have a significant number of great career women to look up to and aspire to be.

I don’t remember very many women in politics receiving the same media coverage that they do now when I was growing up. For me, I had my mom. A mother of five and a colonel in the Army with almost thirty years of experience, my mother has earned her share of respect and my personal admiration for the work she puts in to both of her chosen roles. To my dismay, the question I’ve had to answer time and time again when I mention I’m part of a military family is: “What does your dad do?” Even after I explain what my mom does for her job, I still get asked in fluent double standard where my dad works. Well, he stays at home -- exactly where my mom would be if she adhered to the same coin of traditional gender roles that prompts those questions in the first place.

So, it’s 2018 and America still clings to an outdated breadwinner dichotomy. The most proliferated image we have for women in the workforce is Rosie the Riveter, a feminist icon and reclaimed symbol for the right to equal status to men in not only work, but in all opportunities. That was the 1940s. Today, we have the right to demand that women have the representation we’ve worked so hard to earn. Ilhan Omar, Sharice Davids, Rashida Tlaib and the other 109 woman currently in congress didn’t get elected because of their womanhood, but because of hard work and commitment to our country. The same can be said about our female troops and diplomats that train for years, work long hours to fight for our freedoms and advocate for our image overseas.

Women can be mothers, wage earners, both, or neither. It’s time to stop assuming that both sexes can’t see overlap in their roles or aspirations. To all the female politicians, soldiers and leaders: keep your voice loud, your intentions clear and give more young girls a reason to offer up an answer that proves the asker wrong.