ONE ARGUMENT in favor of women in combat roles is equality of opportunities. Combat experience factors into advancement opportunities. This is true for men and women. With the new Department of Defense decision, more women can get the combat experience for movement up the military ranks. Will more women advance? Will they make better military leaders than men?
We have at least one social experiment to partially address the first question: the Israeli Defense Forces or IDF. Women have always served in the IDF. In fact, women have served in the military even before the state was founded. (You can see more photos of the IDF with Tuesday’s column.) Since 2000, women have been permitted in direct combat roles. Today, about one-third of all IDF forces are women. But 51% of IDF officers are women. Did the opening of combat roles figure into the preponderance of women officers?
Do women make better military leaders? I’m curious about your opinion, especially if you have military experience. In general, Americans believe that women make good political and business leaders, according to a Pew poll in 2008. In fact, Americans rate women higher when it comes to the leadership characteristics of honesty, intelligence, compassion, outgoingness, and creativity. They rate men higher for decisiveness. But only 6% say that women make better leaders. Twenty-one percent say men make better leaders. Over two-thirds say women and men both make good leaders.
Do you think more women in combat will open advancement for women?
Will women make better military leaders than men?
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Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an experiment in civil dialogue about American values.