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Today, nearly 400,000 women serve in active-duty and reserve roles in the U.S. military, making up over 17% and 21% of the forces, respectively. Starting in 1948, Congress authorized women to be full, permanent members of the armed services, but it wasn’t until 2015 that Secretary of Defense Ash Carter opened all military jobs to women. Although the growing number of women serving in the Armed Forces represents progress and increasing opportunities, women in the military—like women in many historically male-dominated careers—continue to face gendered challenges that can limit their achievements, recognition, retention, and advancement. As of 2022, 14% of the top three enlisted ranks are women, and only 8% of general and flag officers are women.
As the U.S. government navigates a changing national security landscape, women are likely to play increasingly important roles. Join Perry World House and the U.S. Army War College’s Eisenhower Series College Program as they discuss the progress and ongoing challenges regarding women serving in the Armed Forces. How does the US military compare to civilian corporations in giving women opportunity to fully participate and advance? Do the Armed Forces face unique challenges? What more should the Department of Defense do to increase the number of women in the ranks and ensure they have fair opportunities to advance into senior leadership roles?
Colonel Seana M. Jardin is an Army Human Resources Officer with 24 years of service. An air defense PATRIOT missile officer who later transitioned to the Human Resources career field, she has led a variety of organizations across her career and has deployed to Saudi Arabia, Korea, Kuwait, and Iraq. COL Jardin holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from the College of William and Mary and a master's degree in management and leadership from Webster University. Her last assignment was as the Staff Director for the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, providing advice on women’s policy to the Secretary of Defense.
Colonel Carina Kelley is an Army Air Defense Artillery Officer with over 22 years of service. During her career she has deployed three times, once to Israel in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and twice to Iraq in support of Operations New Dawn and Inherent Resolve. She has commanded at multiple levels; most recently as a Patriot missile Battalion Commander based out of Fort Bliss, Texas. Prior to attending the US Army War College, Colonel Kelley served as the Integrated Air and Missile Defense branch chief at US Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii.
Lieutenant Colonel Qiana Harder is an active-duty military police officer in the Army Reserve with over 20 years of law enforcement experience who has held numerous leadership positions of increasing responsibility. LTC Harder has expertise in terrorism and violent extremism, and has led security cooperation engagements with allies and partners throughout the Indo-Pacific. As an Army Fellow at the Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, her work and research focused on Women, Peace, and Security. A native of Atlanta, Georgia, LTC Harder is a 2020 National Security Fellow at Syracuse’s Maxwell School, and she holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from Northcentral University, where she specialized in Homeland Security Leadership and Policy.
Melissa M. Lee is the Klein Family Presidential Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the Director of the World House Student Fellows Program at Perry World House. Professor Lee studies the international and domestic politics of statebuilding and state development. She is the author of Crippling Leviathan: How Foreign Subversion Weakens the State (Cornell University Press, 2020). Her research has also been published in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, and International Organization, and her policy writing has appeared in Foreign Affairs and the Irregular Warfare Initiative. Her work has received the American Political Science Association’s 2016 Helen Dwight Reid (now Merze Tate) award, APSA’s European Politics and Society Section 2020 Best Article Prize, and Perry World House’s inaugural Emerging Scholar Global Policy Prize. Lee received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University and her B.A. in Political Science – International Relations from the University of California San Diego. Prior to joining the faculty at Penn, Lee was Assistant Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University and the Lightning Scholar at Perry World House.