9 May 2022


Inequality in the Military

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Academic level: College

Paper type: Research Paper

Words: 1983

Pages: 7

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For many years, the society has perceived women as inferior to men in terms of their physical capabilities and abilities to accomplish certain tasks. This stereotype has caused many women to miss opportunities in some jobs thus limiting the type of professions and careers that women can join. Inequality is therefore the existence of differences in the acquisition of opportunities, resources and self-expression. Inequality disadvantages the minority in a way that leads to a lack of personal expressivity in choosing what they prefer for themselves. It can occur due to demographic features such as gender, race and ethnicity or due to other inherent physical characteristics of an individual. Social and political factors can also influence the level to which people can grow professionally. Inequality in the military exists between women and men, across races as well as due to ethnic factors. This research paper seeks to investigate the inequality that exists in the military by exploring the factors that lead to gender bias in the military and how gender disparity has been addressed.

Research Questions

What are the disparities that exist in the military?

What specific inequalities regarding gender exist in the military?

How are has the military and the U.S department of defense addressed these disparities in the recent past?

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The research paper will focus on the investigation on the factors that lead to inequality in the military. The main aspects of analysis in the paper will be to deduce the hypothesis that the main aspects of discrimination in the military relate to race, ethic group and the gender. The paper will also explore main elements of gender discrimination that exist in the military. Apart from these, the research paper will also focus on how the government has addressed issues related to gender disparity in the army. The paper will also offer a discussion on the prospects of the future with regard to recruitment in the military and remuneration of the service men and women.


The paper will employ qualitative and quantitative methods in the determination of the areas of inequality. Since the research involves an investigation into already existing information secondary sources are the main sources. This is so since these sources contain synthesized data that appropriate for referencing, thence they are reliable for the research. An exploration of the secondary sources offers a good platform for cross-referencing and hence the best sources of the information are identifiable. Analysis of the qualitative data will be effected through discussions in the paper to offer clarity of research findings. Through this, each finding will be scrutinized to offer insight and more understanding of the topic. Since this is an investigative study, the relationships between the different factors that lead to disparity will be established.


Equality for women serving in the military would mean the state at which women would receive similar treatment as their male counterparts. This implies that females would have the same opportunities as males during military recruitment, assignment to missions, compensation in terms of salary and equal promotion chances. Achievement of equality in the military would lead to standardization of the requirements for military enrollment. The attainment of this has however been blanketed by challenges such as political interference, and willful external influences. It therefore follows that despite the huge strides made by reforms in the military, there remains issues of harmonization between the female and male service men (Rice, C., 2015).

Women in the US military form only 14% of the service men. Such a small number implies that there is discrimination against women in the recruitment of the military personnel. Attributable to this is the notion that women possess lesser physical power and aggression as compared to men. Such presumptions have prompted the change of the requirements for qualification to join the military among women. This has worked as an incentive to encourage mere women to join the military. The inequality in terms of number of female service personnel is also partly because the annual female volunteers to military service as fewer as compared to males. Among the 60,000 annual volunteers less than have of this number beat the military qualification standards. As such, gender differences in the initial recruits translates to the inequality that occurs once they join service ( Okazawa, M, 2012).

Women possess limited capacity in accomplishing tasks in combat missions. In the quest to prove this, the Marines Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force carried out a study, in which 400 military personnel, both male and female were investigated for differences in achieving their tasks. The study divided participants into groups of male-only and others were integrated with both gender. These separate groups were evaluated for speed, accuracy, survivability and member participation. Results revealed that 69% of the male groups performed far much better than those that composed of females. Compared to women, the body physique of the males was larger with more muscle mass, hence higher capacities to tolerate extraneous work. This translated to their high performance. Female military personnel were more likely to suffer injuries while carrying out their tasks as compared to the males. Evidently, there exists a disparity between the performance expectations of males and females when assigned military duties. Hence, the proposition that female soldiers are less endowed with the capability to tolerate extremes of physical activity. This proves an inequality in the physical capacities of females in comparison with the males. However, this does not mean that exceptional females who can outcompete males in performance of military duties do not exist (Rice, C., 2015).

Before 2013, women serving in the military were prohibited from serving in the war fronts and military combats. This was due to the believe the exposures in such areas of war could lead to undesirable mortalities and longstanding morbidities to the soldiers. According to this argument, endangering the lives of women in frontiers was of less benefit than risking the lives of such a population of the military work force. Prohibition of women from carrying out military combats was an expression of inequality. As a way of addressing this inequality, the secretary of defense Leon Panetta withdrew this prohibition in January 2013. This meant equal treatment of females and males with regard to assignment of tasks that relate to military combats. Such was a major stride in the military department since it allowed for equal opportunities of participation, disregarding gender bias. Since the prohibition also barred women from attaining certain ranks beyond the brigade, scraping off such kind of an injunction meant that women could rise in ranks to occupy higher military positions . Amendment that the ministry of defense made to this prohibition did not harbor any military justification but bore a large weight in achieving equality in the job opportunities. There is no overall military benefit in allowing females to lead in military combats but the fact that the elimination of the prohibition offers an equality in the job descriptions for both males and females is satisfying (Rice, C., 2015).

Allowing women to serve in the infantry raises several concerns. Military combat with enemy lines implies that the individual has made the sacrifice to fight and that they are willing enough to contribute towards winning a war. In this essence, rescinding the 1994 rule only confers the advantage of choosing the best-suited individuals, with the required abilities to take part in combat regardless of their gender. The inclusion of women in the combat zones does not translate to an increase in the efficiency of the operations at war front. Here, the implication is that inclusive grouping which considers gender balance is a way to go even for the future events of war. The importance of this is only attributable to facilitation of fairness in job acquisition for both male and female genders. Participation of women in combat has aided in the counter-insurgency fights in a country like Afghanistan in which civilian protection is a military goal. Even in such situations, the interaction of the female soldiers with the males taking part in the infantries has existed before the authorization in January 2013. Women had served in previous wars like Iraqi war in the heart of the action since the conventional linear frontlines are rarely applicable ( Okazawa, M, 2012)

Although authorization of the females to participate in the infantries occurred three years ago, there has been a lag in offering hierarchal promotions to women soldiers. This gender inequality in promotions has derailed the processes of achieving uniform gender representation in the military ranks. It is important to note that despite these challenges, women are increasingly participating in more involving roles such as flying fighter jets, leading and providing intelligence in rescue missions as well as operating submarines. In another promising scenario, two females have recently produced a record in completion of military training through the Army Ranger School, which is deemed one of the toughest training exercises for the military. The results for this can only show a brighter future for the females in making great military achievements contrary to common belief. 

Gender inequality in terms of sexual harassment for the female military personnel is a disturbing truth. There has been devastating reports of sexual harassment casualties of women operating in the US military bases in Middle East. Reportedly, one in every three female soldiers has had an encounter with sexual abuse at one point in their military service. This injustice proves the dangers that female soldiers have to surpass in their roles of peacekeeping. For these sexual abuse victims, attainment of justice through the judicial systems in the United States is also difficult since the crimes committed to them occur outside the jurisdiction of United States. Delays in justice have exacerbated the suffering. Veteran female soldiers who have encountered sexual abuse are three times more likely to commit suicide than other veterans are. Rates of development of post-traumatic stress disorder are even higher for such individuals. Such kinds of risks make female military personnel vulnerable. To prevent these events the government has to step up protective measures for their citizenry working as military resource in foreign countries ( Okazawa, M, 2012)

Access to mental health care for women working in the military is also an issue that has created inequality. Compared to the common American citizen, service females in the military are more likely to suffer from mental health disorders. Unfortunately, the access to mental health facilities and treatment for mental illness has been a great challenge for the female military personnel. Given that females serving in war fronts experience great physical and psychological trauma, it is important to provide mental healthcare. However, as it stands, most of the veterans do not have health covers, and they go abandoned to mental illness. A number of these become homeless after return from duty and are likely to stay unemployed after completion of term of service. These issues need address from the government if achievement of equality among the females serving in the military is anything to go by. 

Ethnic and racial disparities also exist in the military. For recruitment, a volunteer 18-year-old white male is 4 times more likely to pass recruitment tests as compared to black counterpart. This therefore means that the military is highly dominated by the white population. In a country that strives to achieve equal opportunity for all, this aspect in job enrolment portrays a negative picture. It is also easier for a white military service man to rise in the ranks than an African American or a Latin-American (Miranda, S., 2016). Differences in acquisition of these ranks stirs up the argument that inequality exists, not because of limitation of capabilities but partly due to political and social influences. An overhaul of the systems is required if equality is to be realized in a situation like this. There is a disparity in the compensation levels of the military service personnel with women earning the least annually (Peter, G. & Guido, M., 2010). This may be a contribution made by the fact that the females occupy lower ranks in the military.


In conclusion, although the military institution has made great strides in the quest of achievement of equality, disparities still exist between service women and men. The females have limitations of opportunities for growth in ranks. Withdrawal of the 1994 rule of prohibition of women to participate in combat missions has helped a great deal in bridging this gap between military males and females. However, military reforms are necessary in addressing issues specific to gender abuse in military females and access to mental health for trauma victims. Strategies for dealing with veterans, their health policy and resettling from oversees missions have to be streamlined in order to prevent mental illness and ill behavior after retirement of military personnel.


Miranda, S. (2016). The Great Equalizer. CQ Researcher.  Vol. 26 Issue 19, p451-453. 3p.

Okazawa, M (2012). Warring on Women: Understanding Complex Inequalities of Gender, Race, Class, and Nation: Journal of Women & Social Work. Vol. 17 Issue 3, p371-383. 13p.

Peter, G. & Guido, M. (2010). Excavating a force that drives income inequality: Rethinking and analyzing the link between military participation ratio and inequality. Journal of Political & Military Sociology . Vol. 34 Issue 2, p257-279. 23p.

Rice, C. (2015). Women in Infantry. Military Review. Vol. 95 Issue 2, p48-55. 8p

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 16). Inequality in the Military.


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