I know it.
I’m aware of it.
This is emphatically my opinion and I speak only for myself.
It’s because I am married to a commissioned minister, a serving pastor. And hey, I’ve become sensitive to it. Recently, at morning chapel for chaplains, a male chaplain preached to “men of God” and completely ignored the presence of the only female chaplain in the room. Of course, this seems to be standard fare. I regularly experience chaplains (and I’ve been guilty of it myself) not even making an atempt at gender inclusive language.
We have a recruiting problem. We need more female chaplains in the US Army.
Yesterday, the US Navy appointed the first female Chief of Chaplains of the Navy. She had been the Chaplain of the Marine Corps (the Navy Deputy Chief of Chaplains) just prior. I applaud it. I am excited and proud of the Navy that they, finally, in 2014, had the courage to appoint a woman pastor to a position of power.
Only, it’s 2014.
And my service? My beloved Army? From this Captain’s foxhole, our halls of leadership look awfully white and male.
And it’s 2014. I think it’s about time.
I’ve heard the reasons, and they all sound the same – “the path to leadership needs to go through certain gates and those gates are closed to women. We choose the best candidate, and we’ve just not had a woman pass through the right gates – they are just not competitive for the job.”
It’s 2014 and THAT is still a reason. If gates are a problem, either change the gates or start sending the women through them in order to get them ready to lead the Corps. It’s our Corps and we decide the path to power.
Here’s the thing, my Corps loves to post the story about the first woman commissioned as a chaplain. It was 1974 and Rev. Alice Henderson, a pastor with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, was sworn in at Ft. McPherson, GA and served for 13 years. Since then, dozens of women have served and even gained the rank of COL. But not chief. Not even deputy chief.
And the notion that they “just have not had the right assignments” is not good enough. I have heard for my entire career that the Corps sees you at some point and starts grooming you for leadership opportunities – up to and including the role of chief. So, what I’m seeing, is that for 40 years of women serving in the US Army Chaplain Corps, there hasn’t been one person, one woman, who could be groomed to be the Chief. Not one.
We are not the Infantry Branch, Armor, Intelligence, or Artillery. We are the Chaplain Corps, and we are woefully inadequate in the area of diversity. I can only hope that as I write this, there are great women serving in positions of power who are being groomed for the role as Chief. I hope to serve one in my career.
No more excuses. They are not good enough. Having women serve as colonels is not good enough. It’s about time.