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More Women in US Military Academies, But Still a Lot More Men


FILE - Cadet Isabella Minter, center, marches with senior class members during Parade Day at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., May 22, 2019.
More Women in US Military Academies, But Still a Lot More Men
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The percentage of female students nominated by U.S. lawmakers for admission to U.S. military academies has been rising over the last 25 years. But men are still nearly three times more likely than women to get a nomination, says a study released Tuesday.

A member of Congress must nominate most applicants to the Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy and the Military Academy at West Point. The schools provide a cost-free education, then require graduates to serve a number of years in the armed forces.

Currently, women represent about 27% of Naval Academy students, 22% of Air Force Academy cadets, and 22% of students at West Point. However, women are able to hold nearly all jobs in the armed forces.

Representatives of some lawmakers say the numbers of female students are low because only a small number of women apply.

But Lory Manning, director of government operations for the Service Women’s Action Network, says congressional offices should change their recruiting efforts. She believes the number of female students at the academies should agree more with the increased role for women in the military.

A new cadet reports to the cadet in the red sash during the U.S. Military Academy at West Point’s Reception Day, June 27, 2016. (U.S. Army photo by: Staff Sgt. Vito T. Bryant)
A new cadet reports to the cadet in the red sash during the U.S. Military Academy at West Point’s Reception Day, June 27, 2016. (U.S. Army photo by: Staff Sgt. Vito T. Bryant)

The report, called “Gatekeepers to Opportunity,” is the work of the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center, and the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School. They reviewed documents on nominations made by members of the current Congress.

Using nearly 25 years of nominations from 1994 to the upcoming school year, researchers found 21% of their nominees overall have been women. That percentage increasingly has risen over the last ten years. It went from 17% in 2009 to 26% for the upcoming school year.

The study found that Sen. Mazie Hirono, a Hawaii Democrat, was among senators who nominate women most often, at a rate of 38 percent. She said she makes sure her group includes at least one woman.

“We have a long way to go still before there is equality between men and women,” Hirono said. “But the fact that there are so many qualified young women applying, being nominated, and getting accepted is a positive trend and one that I hope will continue.”

I’m Anne Ball

Anne Ball adapted this story from the Associated Press, with information from Yale Law School, for VOA Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

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Words in This Story

graduate – n. to earn a degree or diploma from a school, college, or university

cadet – n. a student at a military school who is preparing to be an officer

recruit – v. to find suitable people and get them to join a company, an organization, the armed forces, etc.

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