Women at USAFA

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by melindayching, Jul 1, 2011.

  1. melindayching

    melindayching Member

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    Hi -- I'm very new to this forum and new to USAFA lingo and whatnot, so apologies if I breach any etiquette or protocol. My daughter is considering USAFA very seriously. My husband and I are fully supportive of her desire (he's an 80 USAFA grad) but I am still concerned about what I've heard about sexual harassment in previous years. I know that many institutional changes have been made since 2009, but I am still worried. My husband was in the first class with women and he does not have any concerns for her, but I still do. Can anyone out there with cadet daughters provide me with some insight?
    Also, does anyone know whether the admission figures for women roughly reflect the same percentages as men (# applied/# admitted)?
    Thanks so much.
     
  2. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Just to answer your 1st part, concerns over sexual harassment.

    Have you investigated the schools she would be using as her plan B? If not, why not? Do you believe they don't have these issues?

    I have a DD, and honestly I would feel more comfortable with her at an SA than at a traditional college, she is at a traditional college, one that made headlines...VT Massacre. Why? Because the SAs aren't as quick to sweep it under the rug compared to traditional colleges. The cadets can not only face being kicked out, but also jail time where they make big rocks into little ones. Ft. Leavenworth!

    IMPO to survive this world as a Mom or a wife, you need to have faith. You need to believe if this horrible thing would occur, it would occur regardless of where they are. It is their path in life.

    Honestly, your DD could go to Columbia, get a job at Goldman Sachs and be sexually harassed there too.

    I am a wife of a guy who served 20 yrs as an officer in the AF. I will tell you he saw every female as a sister, respected them for their knowledge as a peer, and defended them if anyone tried to do something "funky".

    Finally, I know you meant no offense by the post, you are just trying to gain info, but look at it from the flip side. You just did 3 things.

    1. Implied to parents of DS's that they are the harassers. Not something parents will jump up and say: "YEP, my kid does it!"

    2. AFA condones it and it is common place.
    ~~~ Ex: Last week the headlines were every 5 days a kid dies in a pool during the summer. Sounds frightening right? Now, place into the equation that it means maybe 50 kids out of millions. Not as frightening is it?

    The same is true for the AFA. Let's say 1 girl a yr is harassed, now place the fact that they have thousands of girls there. Horrible if it is your child, but statistically, the odds are she will be safer there than at a big state University.

    3. She will owe 5 yrs at least AD, if this is a concern now, what about when she goes AD; wouldn't she face that in the AD world?

    Remember those cadets will also be officers. If you have fear for her at the AFA, trust me it won't dissipate when she is a 2nd LT., especially if she goes UPT. Afterall, in the fighter world the % of females are far less than the % at the AFA. Maybe on a good day, you are looking at 0.1%. Yes, I mean 1 woman in a fighter flying squadron of 70+.

    If it was me, I would be 100,000% behind her. You raised a smart DD, you trust her enough to drive a ton of metal at night. Trust her enough to be able to work the system when she feels threatened.

    Now is the time to understand what "cutting the apron strings" or "letting them fly" means. If you don't do that you will be a chocolate mess for the next 9 yrs. That comment is meant with love.

    Good luck.
     
  3. dohdean

    dohdean Member

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    My daughter is a rising Junior (C2C). We are not a military family -- so it has been an experience.

    My daughter is 5'4", less than 120 pounds, blonde and cute. I too was worried about what might happen at USAFA or West Point (where she also received an appointment). However, she has not experienced any of the bad stuff that you have read about from earlier years. In face, she has found that most of the guys treat her like a sister -- and would not stand for her being treated poorly. Having said that, she has still had to develop a fairly thick skin about certain things -- language being the most noticeable (after all she is living with a lot of guys and the language, including hers, is pretty coarse).

    Please feel free to send me a private message if you would like to talk on the phone.
     
  4. urbonman6

    urbonman6 Member

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    second part

    For the second part of your question (regarding admissions), I believe the admissions board looks at the percentage of women in AD service, then they trie to somewhat match that percentage for how many females are awarded appointments. Maybe someone else can confirm or correct this info.
     
  5. melindayching

    melindayching Member

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    Thank you, and my apologies for offending. I certainly did not mean to imply that there are more problems at the academies than elsewhere. It's just with such a higher % of men than exists at traditional colleges and the fact that the academies are publicly funded and therefore highly scrutinized, you tend to hear more about the bad stuff. My husband is a USAFA grad but got out before we got married; he comes from a long line of AF officers and I have the utmost respect for the service. Thank you dohdean for reaching out to discuss privately. Appreciate it.
     
  6. JMC0759

    JMC0759 S-USMMA '12 D-USAFA '15

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    My DD is currently in BCT. I made the mistake of reading "Skies to Conquer" before she reported. The book covered the sexual assault scandal of several years ago. It was a little scary but since that time the academy has made changes in the administration and in the way the cadre disciplines the basics. Did you happen to see the senior enlisted people at inprocessing? They are there for a reason.
     
  7. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    Hi!

    Just some history and current "not published but really sorta policy."

    A few years ago...okay, perhaps as far as 10 years ago (the mind isn't as sharp)...the sup't asked the Chief of Staff of the AF "...we're trying to match the AF demographics for females however we've had some amazing young women applying and I can foresee us someday faced with the possibility of appointing MORE females than the AF demographic. Any problems with that sir?"

    His answer was something like: "We want the BEST for the academy...if that means more females than males...go for it!"

    So...since then...if we have more females, etc., than the "AF demographic" then USAFA will select them! They're after the best!!!

    But yes...the SA's do try to "mirror" their service demographics.

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  8. kfacademy

    kfacademy USMA Appointee 2017

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    Just curious- Would this be making it easier or more difficult for girls? Like is the application 32% female and 68% but they hold true to the 22% female ratio that would be harder for girls but if less than 22% of the applicants are female it would easier for girls. Do you see what I mean or is it truly that about 22% of the applicants are female.

    *Sorry if that is an outdated percentage. I got it from collegeboard.
     
  9. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    You know...this is where we try to "parse" the details with micrometers. The plain simple answer is: I don't know.

    Is it harder for you gal's to get in than the guys? I truly don't think so, but I might be biased as I've worked with some simply amazing young ladies in the past 17 years! :wow:

    In the end, what I WILL say is this: IF you are "good enough" then who cares? You will be the one they want! Don't worry about the other gal, guy, congressional district, etc. Worry ONLY about YOU! Compete ONLY with yourself!!!

    The rest...eh...noise.

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  10. flyerdreamer

    flyerdreamer USAFA alumnus and parent

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    I took your question as one from a worried mom, nothing more. I, too, am a worried mom, aka a WM. :biggrin: so i can relate, trust me! But I'm also a grad, a female, and someone with friends who are grads that span the decades since my own graduation. I can tell you that there will always be those who drink to excess and do drugs or "spice" and there will be bigots, misogynists, and racists, but with extreme confidence and experience I can assure you that those people are a fraction of the general cadet population. The vast, vast majority are good kids, the best. Although I am a charter member of the WM Club :smile: we really can relax knowing that our girls will be going to a school where there are more good young people with better character than most anywhere else.
     
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  11. flyerdreamer

    flyerdreamer USAFA alumnus and parent

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    Well, back when that big scandal broke, the girls DID try to "work the system" but it failed them. This was why USAFA was beheaded of the leadership in place at that time and changes were made to (hopefully) assure no repeat. Getting nowhere with the male senior officers, the girls went to a female colonel, who basically told them to suck it up. :thumbdown: Sure, we are cutting our kids loose for the most part but we must never, ever make them feel silly or immature for coming back to us parents with their problems, operating big pieces of metal or no, because sometimes you just need the opinion of someone you trust, mom or dad, especially when the people who are supposed to protect you don't.
     
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  12. USAFA10s

    USAFA10s USAFA Class of 2012 WPAFB

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    I just wanted to add my perspective. I am a female cadet class of 2012 (FIRSTIE!!) and I can say I have never felt safer anywhere else. Granted there are crazies everywhere, but at USAFA, its like I have 1000 brothers. Just for example, I sit at a lunch table with one other girl and 8 of my good guy friends from my squad. The table behind us was basically making some pretty offensive comments about the girls at the academy, and all it took was for the guys at my table to hear one comment and they promptly and not too kindly told the offending table to have some respect.

    I know this example isn't the level you were talking about, but my point is, the number of guys willing and able to stop any sort of harassment is much much higher than anywhere else. If you have any more questions about life as a woman at USAFA, just send me a message. After three years I can give you a pretty good idea about the current "climate" regarding women at USAFA
     
  13. melindayching

    melindayching Member

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    Thank for reaching out, USAFA10s, and congratulations on your successes thus far. And thank you to you moms who have responded who understand my concerns as a mother of a daughter.
    And regarding the admissions question, I was just trying to get at whether there is statistic out there regarding the numbers of women who apply.

    Thanks all for the comments.
     
  14. hunterjumper67

    hunterjumper67 Member

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    WM

    Thanks again all. Especially Melindayching for bringing up this issue. I am too in the process of reading "Skies to Conquer" and was very concerned and so was DD. However, I know it was a sore spot in the AFA eyes and was worried about bringing it up because I didn't want anybody to take offense. However, I disagree with Pima to a point because in no other college do students have this much power over other students. And without strict regulations and supportive leadership this can turn into a real problem and it did many moons ago. However, that said the AFA handled it. They changed the leadership and leave no question about how situations like this would be handled. In addition, I talked with some current AFA cadets (male and female) about the issue and they didn't feel it was an issue either. As other posters they felt most relationships were very supportive. Lets face it we all want the best for our kids and speaking from a mother's perspectivem, as did Melindayching and Flydreamer, I want to know that my kid is safe from this kind of physical and emotional trauma. But after a little discussion and investigation my DD and I are at peace with it now. I worried as well and I am glad it is out in the open and that I wasn't the only concerned parent, who felt this issue needed closer examination:thumb:. Flydreamer I like the way you think.
     
  15. AnneMartinFletcher

    AnneMartinFletcher Member

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    Dear Melinda,
    Your husband and I spent many miserable experiences together during BCT--in fact, I am writing a book about it! Ask him about the old football cheer with his name in it. ;-)
    Seriously, I have thought hard about why I was never sexually harassed at USAFA or in the AF, when I know other capable women who were. This does NOT mean that I was never harassed--everyone is harassed (again, ask G about that cheer). Nor does it mean that I was not propositioned. It may be unfair that the woman has to be the person who takes steps to ensure her safety, but I think it was the lessons that my mother taught me that always kept me safe:
    1) Don't get drunk, and watch your drink so no one else has access to it. My classmate who was assaulted, at an off-base party, did not watch her drink.
    2)Say "No" firmly. Do not be coquettish about it. If necessary, say "no" and then go find a different group of men or classmates to stand with, ones who you know will protect you like a sister.
    3)Do not let men into your dorm room at 3 am. If your roommate lets a man into your dorm room, insist that he leaves while you go call the Duty Officer. Your roommate may get mad at you for a day or two, but you will never have to deal with that situation again, even with other roommates.
    4)Be aware of your surroundings. This is a great skill for all Air Force Officers to have.
    5) Be feminine, be sweet, be professional, but always insist that others treat you with the same respect you show them-- and they will.
     
  16. AnneMartinFletcher

    AnneMartinFletcher Member

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    So disappointing.

    As I told your Superintendent last October, I am so disappointed that, 36 years after I entered USAFA, women are still not automatically treated with the same respect as the men. While I consider this to be a failure of leadership, and while I am glad your classmates stuck up for you, I hope that you and the women in your class will also stick up for each other. You have to rock the boat to make waves. Good luck!
     
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  17. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    Anne, welcome to the forums. Head to the intro section and let us know about you. Just a quick glance at your word press site and I know I'd like to hear you give an introduction on here! Also look forward to more insights from a 1980 grad!
     
  18. melindayching

    melindayching Member

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    WOW! AnnMartinFletcher, this forum is amazing in how it connects people! Thank you so much for your very real and practical advice for all young women! I will be pm'ing you definitely, as my daughter just got her medical documents and has had her status changed to Candidate!
     
  19. jetset15

    jetset15 Member

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    I may only be a doolie right now (one fight! one team!), but from my experience, I can fully support what everyone else has said. Sure, there are a few guys who don't respect us (girls) as much as they should, but you'd find that anywhere, maybe even more at a non-SA. And the "good" guys, the ones who'll stand by you through anything and everything, your brothers, outnumber the jerks 10:1, probably even more.
    I also read "Skies to Conquer" before coming here, and I can honestly say that it really had me freaked out about my decision. Sure, parts of it are true; why yes, Basic sucked, and yes, I'm pretty sure I'm about to get bogged down with school and athletics and military stuff very VERY soon. But what you have to realize is that the author chose to write about people who were very atypical Academy cadets (from my experience, anyway).

    Main point: I feel safer here than I've ever felt at home.
     
  20. katamonk

    katamonk USAFA 2015 Appointee

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    I thought I'd add my doolie perspective as well. I feel 95% safer here then I do at home. I have yet to be cat-called or oogled by my classmates or upperclassmen. At home, I couldn't go for a run outside without feeling unsafe (and I didn't live in a "bad" area). The guys in my squadron (and I'm sure the whole academy) as a whole want nothing more than to protect us. In fact, on the night before A-day a sophomore came by our room and told us that if we ever have any problems with guys we need to come tell him right away because he doesn't accept any mistreatment of the females here. I have 4000ish people here looking out for me. All in all, I love it here and would reccomend it to every woman brave enough to take the challenge of USAFA :)
     

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