Black Women

African American Women Are Enlisting More In The US Armed Forces

By Moses Kamuiru.

Twice the percentage in the military to that of the civilian populous

Currently, nearly a third of all the women in the US Army comprise of African American women. This is as a result of high rate enlistment by black women as compared to Hispanic and white women. This is according to a study done by the Pew Research Centre. The study found that of the 167,000 enlisted women in the military, 31 percent are black, twice their percentage in the civilian female population. Black men represent about 16 percent of the male enlisted population, roughly equal to their proportion in the civilian population. White women, by comparison, represent 53 percent of women in the military, while accounting for 78 percent of the civilian female population.

Crucial source of new recruits

Based on demographic collected by the defense department, the study confirmed what military experts have known for years: that black women are a crucial source of new recruits for the armed forces, in particular for the Army and the Air Force. Why black women enlist at higher rates than white women or black men has not been extensively studied, said Beth J. Asch, a senior economist and defense human resources specialist at the Rand Corporation. But she suggested that the military tries to attract high school graduates who are looking for job training, excellent benefits and help with college tuition and that a significant percentage of black women fit that bill.

More women

There were more than 200,000 female enlisted and commissioned officers in the military in 2010, up from about 55,000 in 1973. Women now represent 14 percent of the enlisted ranks and 16 percent of commissioned officers. The study, which also drew on surveys conducted by the Pew Center this year with 1,873 veterans, showed that women in the military differ from their male counterparts in several ways. Military women, for instance, are less likely than military men to be married, 46 percent to 58 percent. But while nearly half of the married women in the military have spouses who are also in the military, just 7 percent of married military men have wives in the forces.

Difficulties readjusting to civilian life

It also found that even though women were less likely than men to have served in a combat zone, they were almost as likely to report having had traumatic experiences or difficulties readjusting to civilian life. Women in the military were also more critical of the recent wars than their male peers; the survey showed: 63 percent of women said the Iraq war was not worth fighting, compared with 47 percent of men; 54 percent of women said the same about Afghanistan, compared with 39 percent of men. Though nearly a third of the women in the military are in administrative jobs, the study found that much more were being assigned to combat areas than in the past: 24 percent of women who served since 1990 spent time in the fighting zones, compared with 7 percent before 1990.

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