Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services

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The U.S. Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) was established in 1951 by Secretary of Defense George C. Marshall. Its members are civilian women and men appointed by the Secretary of Defense to provide advice and recommendations on matters and policies relating to the recruitment and retention, treatment, employment, integration, and well-being of women in the U.S. Armed Forces. Beginning in 2002, the Committee began providing advice and recommendations on family issues related to recruitment and retention. DACOWITS' recommendations have been instrumental in effecting changes to laws and policies pertaining to military women.


The 1948 Women's Armed Services Integration Act established defined roles for women in the peacetime armed forces of the United States. They had previously only been allowed to serve as nurses in peacetime and in wider variety of roles only in time of war.[1]

The Committee with 49 women members was formed in August 1951. One of its original members was actress Irene Dunne. The Committee was tasked with making recommendation to the Assistant Secretary for Manpower. Meeting for three days at the Pentagon in September 1951, they heard presentations about recruiting and the possible need for a women's draft based on the failure of recruiting during World War II to meet the military services' requirements for women.[2]


In October 1955, Margaret Divver, advertising manager of the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, was named to head the Committee, replacing Oliver Crowther. The Committee was exploring ways to interest better qualified women in military careers and explaining the increasing variety of positions available to them.[3]

In October 1971, Estelle M. Stacy was appointed to serve as chair for the calendar year 1972, replacing Helen K. Leslie.[4]


  • that the policy of establishing a system of appointment and promotion credit list allowances for advanced graduate degrees, professional education beyond the professional training requirement, or beyond the four-year college program, as well as any related experience in determining the rank and promotion dates (Professional Education Date) of directly commissioned officers in any of the Medical or Health components of the Services. It is further recommended that all Services seek to develop and adopt this policy as a valuable adjunct to recruitment and retention of qualified health professionals.
  • that legislation be established to the effect that a married military woman, regardless of grade, can establish a joint domicile with her husband and shall receive Basic Allowance for Quarters (BAQ) in her own right. In the event the husband is also a member of the Military Services, he shall also receive BAQ in his own right.
  • that civilian husbands of military women be authorized access to and use of exchange and commissary facilities.
  • that the Department of Defense prepare a legislative proposal to amend section 3579, Title 10, U.S. Code to provide the opportunity for officers of the Army Nurse Corps and the Army Medical Specialist Corps to exercise command within the Army Medical Department. Further, that similar statutory provisions relative to other military medical departments be reviewed for the purpose of similar modifications. (This recommendation was not implemented until 1998.)
  • that, in view of the limited number of women physicians and dentists in the Service, increased efforts be made to inform women in schools and private practice of the opportunities available in military medicine.
  • that the U. S. Navy and The U. S. Marine Corps open their Limited Duty Officer commissioning program to women
  • that DoD's General Counsel make a priority inquiry into the propriety of the Congress of the United States prohibiting any specific or particular medical procedures in military hospitals
  • that the minimum standards for eligibility for admission to the Services should be the same for women as for men, except legitimate physical differences.
  • that insofar as permitted by existing statutes, the Secretary of the Navy provide identical standards, including time in grade, for promotions of men and women in the Marine Corps Fall 1979
  • That DoD and DoT that they support the concept that women and men shall be treated in the same way whatever legislative or policy decisions are made concerning the draft, national services or registration for either. (At the time, the United States Coast Guard was an element of the Department of Transportation.)
  • that the President of the United States give priority to the consideration of the appointment of women as judges of the United States Court of Military Appeals
  • that the Services take whatever management initiatives are necessary to ensure that lost time in delivery of medical care is reduced, particularly by giving the active duty women members priority of treatment in obstetrics and gynecology.

After a November 1982 recommendation that 23 additional job categories be closed to women, increasing the number to 60 of 360 categories, the Committee's chair, Mary Huey of Texas Women's University, sought assurance from Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger that women's promotion would not suffer from these exclusions, and Weinberger did so.[5]

  • that a form letter signed by the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel be placed in the Official Military Personnel File of those female enlisted service members reclassified as a result of Direct Combat Probability Coding (DCPC), stating that reclassification was directed by Department of the Army as a result of the Women In The Army Study and that the service member should not be penalized as a result of action taken by Headquarters Department of the Army and that Letters of Instruction to promotion boards address this issue.
  • that the Services provide information to prospective applicants, prior to enlistment or commissioning, about limitations in particular specialties which exist as a result of combat exclusion laws or policy restrictions.
  • that the Office of the Secretary of Defense reiterate, through the publication of a formal policy statement to commanders and field personnel at all levels, the requirement that women be fully utilized in their assigned operational units
  • that the Services adopt a policy of providing professional assistance for rape victims. When in the absence of military or nearby civilian Community Rape Crisis Centers, victims upon consent should be immediately evacuated to the closest available qualified facility.
  • that commanders be made aware that military women with alcohol abuse problems must be identified as early as their male counterparts
  • that the Marine Corps provided a rationale for the exclusion of women Marine from duty as Marine Security Guards and that the Marine Corps re-examine this policy.
  • that all Services grant 6 weeks post-partum non-chargeable leave
  • that the Department of Defense and the Services remove the requirement that members characterize the legitimacy of their dependent children from DoD and Service forms for quarters allowances, dependent identification cards, dependency support statements, records of emergency data, Servicemen's Group Life Insurance, etc.
  • that DoD expand existing leadership training to include dealing with unfounded accusations of homosexuality against Service members.
  • that the Army conduct a 4-year test program under which women in the Army will be allowed to enter all military occupational specialties (including combat and combat support). (This recommendation has not been implemented as of 2005.
  • the Secretary of Defense establish a gender neutral assignment policy in military aviation for all Services Spring 1992
  • that the Army open to the Army Nurse Corps and other AMEDD officers' opportunities for career-enhancing assignments, including command of medical facilities and units involved in delivery of health care.
  • that the Secretary of the Navy open to women all classes of ships and vessels and their associated billets that remain closed because of cost considerations (although they are legally open after the repeal of the Combat Exclusion law).

In 1998 the Committee, then composed of 18 women and two men and chaired by Judith A. Youngman, an associate professor of political science at the Coast Guard Academy, and reporting directly to the Secretary of Defense, recommended increased integration of men and women during basic training after finding that "most service members from every service believed that more gender integration of training was needed than currently existed". It contradicted a late 1997 report of a committee headed by Senator Nancy Kassebaum Baker of Kansas, formed in response to reports of sexual harassment during training, that advocated the opposite.[6]

  • in the strongest possible terms that the Secretary of Defense open current and future Special Operations Forces (SOF) rotary wing aviation to the assignment of women
  • that plans for future submarine platforms incorporate appropriate berthing and privacy arrangements to accommodate mixed-gender crews
  • with regard to women's health needs during deployment, that the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Services collaborate to ascertain what information on prevention and treatment of gynecological infections is available; perform a gap analysis to see what information is lacking; develop additional educational materials as needed; and disseminate that information to Service members, leaders and healthcare personnel and ensure an adequate supply of hygiene products during deployment.

In 2001, there were reports that the Bush administration was considering eliminating the Committee, along with a number of similar advisory groups devoted to women's concerns, and complaints that new appointments were being delayed.[7]


  1. ^ Frank, ed., Lisa Tendrich (2013). An Encyclopedia of American Women at War. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. pp. 627–8.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  2. ^ "80,000 Women Set as Needed in Services" (PDF). New York Times. September 19, 2013. Retrieved June 9, 2013.
  3. ^ "Bostonian to Head U.S. Advisory Group" (PDF). New York Times. October 19, 1955. Retrieved June 9, 2013.
  4. ^ "Washington: For the Record" (PDF). New York Times. October 7, 1971. Retrieved June 9, 2013.
  5. ^ "Weinberger Promises to Aid Women's Rights in the Army". New York Times. August 7, 1983. Retrieved June 9, 2013.
  6. ^ Shenon, Philip (January 21, 1988). "New Finding on Mixing Sexes in Military". New York Times. Retrieved June 9, 2013.
  7. ^ Lewin, Tamar (December 19, 2001). "Bush May End Offices Dealing With Women's Issues, Groups Say". New York Times. Retrieved June 9, 2013.

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