Placing women on the parade fields of the military academies involved a team of Congressman taking many different approaches. It brought together the highest military minds and the most passionate congressmen. Although the route the legislation took was unconventional, it still lifted the armored ceiling preserving the all-male military fraternities in West Point, NY, Annapolis, MD, and Colorado Springs, CO.
This paper chronicles the events leading up to the passing of the legislation as well as the measures taken by the academies to integrate women into the life of the institutions. It also addresses personal accounts from some of the women who attended the military academies.
Congress' adoption of a resolution seeking ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment by the states played a crucial role in the gender integration of the military academies. The widespread assumption that the ERA would be ratified created a ground swell of support. The bulk of this paper focuses on Congressional hearings held in 1974, where the military elite, congressional members, veterans, and academy cadets all testified to a subcommittee on military personnel. During the hearings, all of the arguments were flushed out on both sides of the debate over admission of women to the academies. Those in the military saw women as a threat to the traditions cemented at the academies. They saw women as threatening a curriculum allegedly based on training for military combat. Participants in the hearings argued about cost effectiveness and the wisdom of spending money on women at the expense of training men for the nation's security. Those in favor of admitting women produced strong arguments that the military academies were not the primary training ground for combat training.||en-US