WASHINGTON — Women in the Army will rise through the ranks in combat specialties, but it will take time, said female soldiers at a panel discussion at the AUSA gathering on Monday.
For women to be integrated and rise to levels of leadership in combat arms jobs, "it will take 10 years, but it's going to happen," said CW4 Raquel Patrick, Army Cultural Support Team member at the panel "Leveraging Lessons Learned to Become a More Gender Intelligent Force Discussion 1 - Tactical Perspective."
The 25-year soldier said "it has to be done eventually ... we have to be patient. We are used to working with men. The men have to get used to working with us. It's going to take some time."
"It's a paradigm shift," said Sgt. 1st Class Meghan Malloy, also a Cultural Support Team Member on the panel, and it's already happening in the military's medical community. "We will see more senior officers before enlisted. Are males worried? I have yet to see that. ... I have been pleasantly surprised that at most units I went to they have all been fantastic, I was treated exactly as they were."
The Army has recently opened field artillery jobs to women, and is considering how and when to open other combat arms specialties.
"There is room enough for all of us," said Maj. Ligeia Zeruto, a cyber officer who is set to attend Ranger School starting Nov. 1. She said when she talked about that with her family, one of her three children said he didn't think women could be Rangers. She used that as an opportunity to tell the audience that if children of military parents react that way, the education should begin early to accustom people to the idea of women in such roles.
"I feel called to make the attempt" at Ranger School, Zeruto, an ultra runner, told Army Times outside the panel session. "If I didn't, years from now if I look back, it would be torture for me if I didn't try."
She has wanted to attend the grueling school for many years, and now that she can, she is "ecstatic."
Her goal to grow as a leader and a mentor, and to take the leadership skills back to her cyber field and continue there rather than trying for combat arms.
"I am committed to the cyber fight as an MI officer, and I want to promote that and grow understanding of it," Zeruto said. "My goal is not to become an infantry officer."
Regardless of the job, "the key [for women] is demanding your seat at the table," said Marine Lt. Col. Kate Germano, another panel member. "You've earned your place at the table ... demand that your voices be heard."
Kathleen Curthoys is editor of Army Times. She has been an editor at Military Times for 20 years, covering issues that affect service members. She previously worked as an editor and staff writer at newspapers in Columbus, Georgia; Huntsville, Alabama; Bloomington, Indiana; Monterey, California and in Germany.