Black Women Are Joining the Military in High Numbers

December 27, 2011  |  

Black women now make up almost one-third of all women in the armed forces–doubling their representation in the civilian female population.

A new study by the Pew Research Center found that of the 167,000 women in the U.S. combined forces, 31% are black. When you look at the fact that white women make up just 53% of the women in the military, but represent 78% of the general female population, that percentage is huge.

Beth J. Asch, a senior economist and defense manpower specialist at the Rand Corporation, suggested in a New York Times  article that the large number of black women enlisting is a result of the military’s recruiting practices. She said the military tries to attract high school graduates who are looking for job training, good benefits, and help with college tuition which appeals to a lot of black women.

“That is the group the military targets,” Asch said.

Although overall nearly a third of the women in the military are in administrative jobs, the study showed an increase in the number who were  being assigned to combat areas; 24% of women who served since 1990 spent time in combat zones, compared with 7 percent before 1990. Women also represent 14% of the enlisted ranks and 16% of commissioned officers.

Are you a proud member of the armed forces? Do you agree with Beth Asch’s reasoning for why black women make up such a large percentage of the military?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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