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'Middies' No Longer Have to Wear Skirts


A midshipman lifts her face to the sun at the end of a formal dress parade by the Brigade of Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. on Wednesday, April 7, 2010. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

A midshipman lifts her face to the sun at the end of a formal dress parade by the Brigade of Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. on Wednesday, April 7, 2010. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)


For the first time, men and women graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy will wear the same uniforms at graduation in May.

The women of the Naval Academy’s Class of 2016 will wear trousers, not skirts, it was announced this week. Marine Colonel Stephen Liszewski, the commandant of midshipmen, announced the change Monday.

At the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium at Annapolis, Maryland, 266 female seniors will graduate May 27. Women make up close to 25 percent of the 1,077 graduating class.

The decision was made to improve gender equality at the academy. The USNA, also called “Annapolis,” is one of four that offers a university education followed by military service.

Academy spokesman Commander John Schofield said the new policy on wardrobes is putting “shipmate before self.”

Schofield also said: “The graduation and commissioning ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy is not about individuals.”

The rule change comes following Navy Secretary Ray Mabus' emphasis on the equal role women will have in the military.

Mabus recently told a group of midshipmen, also called “middies,” “In the Navy and in the Marine Corps, we are trending toward uniforms that don’t divide us as male or female, but rather unite us as Sailors or Marines.”

The Navy equality campaign will also examine job titles that include the word “man” in the description. Even the term “midshipman” will be under review and could be changed.

I’m Jim Dresbach.

VOANews.com reported this story. Jim Dresbach adapted the story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

graduatingv. earning a degree or diploma from a school, college, or university

uniformsn. a special kind of clothing that is worn by all the members of a group or organization

trousersn. a piece of clothing that covers your body from the waist to the ankle and has a separate part for each leg

commandantn. an officer who is in charge of a group of service members in the military

wardroben. a collection of clothes that a person owns or wears

midshipmann. someone who is being trained to become an officer in the U.S. Navy

seniorn. a student in the final year of college

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