ABOARD USS BONHOMME RICHARD, AT SEA -- Sailors recognized Women's Equality Day aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), Aug. 26.
On this date in 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified which gave women the right to vote. In 1971, Congress designated Aug. 26 as Women's Equality Day to promote the continuing efforts toward gender equality.
"Other people paved the way so that I could be a female in the Navy and enjoy the fact that I don't have to think about it, and I'm very grateful to them," said Lt. j.g. Ann Tuddenham, staff judge advocate for Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11.
The Navy first allowed women to enter the service in the Navy Nurse Corps in 1908, 12 years before the 19th Amendment was ratified. The Women's Armed Service Integration Act was passed June 12, 1948 and allowed women a permanent status in the armed services.
The Combat Exclusion Law was repealed in 1994 allowing women to serve on warships. Currently 95 percent of Navy billets are open to women.
"When I joined, I remember someone telling me that my job was mostly males," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate Fuel Airman Allison Hagen. "There wasn't going to be that many females and that was fine with me. I knew I would be taking on a lot, but I like my job."
The Navy continues to offer new career and advancement opportunities to the women who volunteer to serve. This year, more than 14,000 positions throughout the Department of Defense were opened to women giving them the opportunity to demonstrate their talents, compete for key assignments and the chance to excel and serve in senior ranks.
"My grandpa was in the Navy and he told me that he was really proud of me for joining the military, especially as a woman," said Hagen. "He remembers that when he was in the service it wasn't common for women to join. He told me he was proud of me and that gave me a lot of motivation to do what I had to do."
Today, women make up 17 percent of the Navy and Navy Reserve.
"My favorite thing about being in the Navy is that I know that everyday when I'm doing my job I'm serving my country at the same time," said Tuddenham. "I don't think you get that kind of job satisfaction anywhere else in the world."
Bonhomme Richard, commanded by Capt. Daniel Dusek, is the lead ship of the only forward-deployed amphibious ready group and is currently operating in the 7th Fleet Area of Operation.