Throughout history, women have overcome many trials and tribulations in the fight for equal opportunity. For years, the Navy has led the way in creating new and innovative opportunities to integrate female Sailors equally. In 1908, even before American women were allowed to vote, the Navy enlisted its first 20 women to serve as nurses. In 1917, women continued to make strides by taking on the role of Yeoman(F), unofficially called ‘Yeomanettes’. By the end of WWI (1918), the number of women serving in the Navy had increased nearly 70 times to 1,386.
Fast-forward more than 100 years, and it is obvious the Navy’s landscape is continuing to change. Recently, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced that no jobs are off limits to women, signifying a major step in the advancement of gender equality.
“Women enhance the capabilities of our force, and now women will have equal – every – opportunity to do so,” Mabus wrote. “This long-overdue move puts policy in line with reality, recognizing the critical role that women play in mission success.”
All Sailors learn valuable skills while in the Navy. Due to the job requirements of various rates, it is not uncommon for junior Sailors to be placed in high pressure, leadership positions. The skills Sailors gain and the camaraderie they share are second to none in life experiences, and both are due in some part to the unique environment of the Navy.
“Because of the Navy, I have had the opportunity to learn several valuable skills,” said Nimitz’ Personnel Specialist 1st Class Ashley Johnson. “I’ve had to learn leadership skills, because I’ve been put in positions where I had to step up and help get the job done. I don’t think I would have had the same opportunities as a civilian, and it’s important that female Sailors be viewed as equals because we provide valuable insights that our male shipmates may not always be able to offer.”
Nimitz and the Navy are pushing to make a gender neutral fleet a reality, a change which has been embraced by many Sailors onboard Nimitz.
As the Commanding Officer of USS Nimitz (CVN 68), Capt. John Ring often states, “People ask me all the time about my female crew onboard.
“I tell them I don’t have a female crew. I don’t have a male crew. I have only one crew and they are all Nimitz Sailors.”
Machinist’s Mate Fireman Ana Martinez, assigned to Nimitz mirrored this sentiment. She said, “It doesn’t matter what gender we are, we’re all here for the same reasons. It allows us to all work together as one crew.”
As we face new threats and challenges in an ever-changing world, the teamwork that unit cohesion and gender equality brings will continue to be essential to mission readiness. As we journey into the unforeseeable future, one thing is crystal clear: the Navy will continue to recognize its men and women as Sailors, and just that.
Join us in celebrating more than a century of contributions by pioneering females in naval service who paved the way for today’s female Sailors.