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They Should Also Serve


Under present rules, not more than two percent of the armed forces can be women, which means that there are at least 49 men to every woman in the nation's military establishment. This is not only unjust, but impractical.

On grounds of principle, there is absolutely no reason why women, who have secured to themselves virtually all the rights of citizenship, should not be also subject to its obligations. Mrs. Mildred McAfee Horton, wartime commander of the Waves and former president of Wellesley, recognized this fact in a speech she made before the Radcliffe Club of New York two months ago, urging the induction of women into the armed forces. At a time when all men are being asked to surrender for a time the amenities of civilian life, the existence of a privileged class is abhorrent.

But the practical arguments are even more cogent. About 80 percent of the men in the Army are employed in backing up the 20 percent doing the actual fighting. Many of these have jobs that could be done by women, and some positions are even better fitted to female than to male talents. As Mrs. Horton so pointedly asked: "Why should an able-bodied boy of 18, highly useful in agriculture or some other necessary occupation, be drafted as a stenographer in uniform while his sister, already trained as a stenographer, is left as a civilian?"

Furthermore, there are fewer women than men, performing civilian jobs, who would be hard to replace. Most of the advanced students, the young technicians, the rising executives, the engineers, and the agricultural workers upon whom the superiority of this nation depends are men; few girls just out of high school take jobs important to the country's well-being.

It may be objected that the drafting of women into the armed forces will take them out of their important roles as workers and as mothers on the home front. But we advocate no universal conscription of women, only enough to fill a reasonable proportion of appropriate service jobs, so that there should be no dearth of secretaries, waitresses, maids, or the like. And military service should have no adverse effects on women's preparation for motherhood.

The trend in this country is definitely toward equality of the sexes, and the advance that would be made by a sizable draft of women would bring military service more closely in line with the American way of life.

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