Three years after the Pentagon ordered the military services to prepare to open all ground combat jobs to women, few of them have expressed interest in a career in the infantry or other newly opened positions.
As part of an experimental program, 233 women who completed Marine Corps infantry and other ground combat schools are eligible for those jobs, but none has requested a formal transfer.
The Army sees similar results. “We’re not expecting a high propensity for infantry or armor,” said Lt. Col. Jerry Pionk, an Army spokesman.
The Marine Corps initially expected about 200 women a year to enter jobs previously closed to women, including a small number in the infantry.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said opening the jobs would improve combat effectiveness because the military would draw from a larger pool of applicants for the infantry and other specialties.
“To succeed in our mission of national defense, we cannot afford to cut ourselves off from half the country's talents and skills,” Carter said.
Military officials said the interest among women in previously all-male jobs may change over time, citing the gradual progress in expanding earlier opportunities for women in the military. “Incrementally over time, it’s been one success after another,” Pionk said.
It remains to be seen whether this time will be different.