On the morning of July 7, 1976, 119 women joined the Corps of Cadets, establishing the first class of females at The United States Military Academy at West Point. It was one of the smartest moves that the United States Military Academy ever made! The impact of that class and those early pioneers such as my classmates that joined in 1981 have left this key institution stronger, smarter and more devoted to mission. In 2017, West Point appointed the first African-American female First Captain following in the footsteps set before her. Congratulations Cadet Simone Askew pictured below with a further description in this link Go Army!
I am not saying that everything is perfect in USMA and the Army with regards to gender diversity, but the improvements on the Academy and the Army have been immense. I would like to touch upon two things that impacted me directly. First, with the switch of USMA to a coed institution, a lot of the destructive, hazing and other institutional practices born of machismo and nothing more were transformed or eliminated. That does not mean the Academy got easier. To the contrary, the practices and the rituals became more purpose-built to mold modern military officers. The focus went from purely physical feats of bravado to those of mental and physical endurance. The second thing was that there was an infusion of female officers as tactical officers and professors. Indeed, two of the four tactical officers that I served under while at the Academy where female – Captain Sasarak and Captain Hayes. Captain Sasarak was a terror on inspections, an awesome role model, and helped me get a coveted assignment to Korea for my Junior Summer. Captain Hayes could leave us all in the dust carrying a 70 lbs. ruck on her slight frame. They brought a female perspective, shorn of the false bravado, but ever the bit as tough and demanding as any male Army officer. They both shaped me in a positive manner for my role as an Army officer. I salute and thank both of them!
If you want to read more on the Power that Diversity brings read these related blogs.