Navy celebrates women’s history month

The Navy is wrapping up Women’s History Month which was celebrated in March.

The Navy encourages participation in all the heritage celebrations and special observances throughout the year. This year, Navy commands are encouraged to celebrate and reflect on the theme “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business.”

Women have served in the Navy as nurses dating back to the 1800s, most notably during the Civil War when the Sisters of the Holy Cross served aboard USS Red Rover, the Navy’s first hospital ship. In 1948, women gained permanent status in the Navy with the passage of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act.

“One hundred years ago this month, in March of 1917, YNC Loretta Perfectus Walsh became the first female chief petty officer in the United States Navy, setting the course for trailblazing women serving as leaders in the U.S. Navy,” said Vice Adm. Jan Tighe, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare, Director of Naval Intelligence. “The list of those trailblazers is long, and includes one of my inspirations, Rear Adm. Grace Murray Hopper.”

The One Navy Team is made up of female Sailors and civilians. Women serve in every rank from seamen to admiral, and hold nearly every job from naval aviator to deep-sea diver. Nineteen percent of the Navy’s enlisted force are women, including eight percent of all senior and master chiefs. Eighteen percent of the officer force and 11 percent of all admirals are comprised of women.

In the Navy’s civilian workforce, 27 percent are women and 26 percent are Senior Executive Service members.

“For Chief Walsh, Adm. Hopper, and so many others, it was not about being a woman serving in the Navy... it was about serving the Navy and this great nation. I’m proud to follow in their footsteps. Quite simply, the Navy is stronger with the diversity in thought and talent that they, and so many others, bring to the fight,” said Tighe.

Over the last century, women have served onboard auxiliary ships beginning in 1978, and on combatant ships beginning in 1994. In 2016, the Department of Defense opened all military occupations and positions to women.

For more information on the history of women and their numerous contributions to the Navy, visit


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