The Army will continue its push for more female recruiters, but this summer it will also work to leverage the ones it already has.
Brig. Gen. Donna Martin, deputy commander of recruiting, said Army Recruiting Command will launch a project to ensure a team of female recruiters attends major gatherings and recruiting events.
"We are going to have a group of female recruiters go to recruiting events, augmenting recruiters already there," Martin told Army Times. "They'll be speaking to women to debunk the myths about serving in the military as a woman."
Events could include, for example, such things as college fairs and high school career days. Recruiting command will work to put together a group of five to six female recruiters from the area of the event to ensure women in attendance have someone who can tell them about life in the Army as a woman.
The move comes at a time when the Army is opening all jobs, including direct ground combat, to women. Currently women make up 17 percent of the force. As an improving economy makes it more difficult to recruit young people who meet the Army's requirements, women represent a largely under-tapped resource.
"We are working toward increasing the percent of female recruiters by one percent each year," Martin said.
"Some women don't think they can have an attractive lifestyle," she said. "We want to show that is not true, that they can have an attractive lifestyle, they can get married, they can have children, and basic training is not as hard as they think it is. [Female recruiters can] give them info on what it's like to be a woman and currently serve in the military."
Defense Secretary Ash Carter addressed one of those issues in late January when he announced a force-wide policy of 12 weeks of maternity leave. That doubled the leave the Army had offered, though the Navy and Marine Corps had upped leave from six to 18 weeks the year before, and had to reduce the benefit.
Martin notes that recruiting is competing with other Army fields, such as drill sergeants and Advanced Individual Training instructors, for the limited supply of women.There are no bonuses or tangible incentives to specifically attract female recruiters, but Martin said the experience offers plenty of rewards of its own, including the ability to help "the youth of America" and "make dreams come true."
"We change lives every single day. There's a story every day out of recruiting command about how we've changed the life of a young man or woman. It can be a very rewarding experience," Martin said.
Since the Pentagon's decision to open 220,000 jobs to women force-wide this year, allowing them to take direct ground combat roles, there hasn't been a rush among women to join combat arms, Martin said. But she doesn't think that's the point. To her it's about giving women choices and changing the military mindset about gender vs. capabilities.
She tried to illustrate that point in a recent conversation with mostly male recruiters, she said.
"I asked them how many have daughters. … How many of you tell your daughters they can't do anything?" Martin said. "To a person in that room, they kind of went, 'huh.' That's how I want them to think about the integration of women. How do you want your daughters to be brought up? How do you want your wives to be treated."