After taking in a break in 2021 while the Defense Department did a review of dozens of advisory boards, the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services is getting up and running again.
Five chairs were sworn in on March 22, and Wednesday, DoD announced a list of 14 new members, including retired female flag/general officers from across the services.
The announcement comes the day before the reconstituted committee’s first scheduled meeting, where members are set to get briefings on DoD women’s health and the Air Force Women’s Initiatives Team.
DACOWITS first stood up in 1951, as the services began to integrate women as full-fledged troops for the first time. The committee holds public, quarterly meetings and publishes an annual report of recommendations.
The most recent report, published in 2020, recommended some broad moves, like increasing oversight and research on outreach programs targeted at recruiting young women, as well as incorporating best practices from the private sector for retention.
Specifically, keeping in mind that family dynamics are one of the main reasons that women leave the military, DACOWITS recommended looking into ways to keep dual-military couples assigned to the same installation.
The 2020 report also included some very specific recommendations, including updating hair regulations “to include precautionary statements in the grooming standards and training regarding potential health issues associated with prolonged use of tightly gathered hairstyles, dyes, and chemical hair products.”
While the Army and Air Force in recent years have authorized women to wear their hair in twists, braids and ponytails, the norm for decades has been a tight bun. For women with textured hair, particularly black women, that has meant costly and damaging relaxing treatments or wigs to smooth the look of the hair.
The report also recommended that the Navy and Marine Corps change their policies to allow for the full 21 days of caregiver leave allowed by DoD following the birth or adoption of a child, which the Navy Department followed through with in February.
Members of the public can submit comments for Thursday’s meeting online.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.