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Speaking Up

A look at noteworthy addresses in the Southland .

April 23, 1993

Rear Adm. Marsha Evans, executive director of the committee on military and civilian women in the Department of the Navy and the third - ranking woman officer in the Navy, spoke Tuesday at Occidental College. From Evans' address:

On The Historical Role of Women in the Military "In the early years of nationhood, women's interest in the military in times of crisis was always evident, as was the military's need for their services. Most women were content to serve as civilians. However, others were determined to follow the only other course available: to masquerade as men.

During the Civil War women on both sides became active on an unprecedented scale. Women fulfilled the usual functions of cooking, sewing. . . .. Many women, both black and white, also served as saboteurs, scouts and couriers. . . .

The most significant contributions of women were in the field of health care and medicine. . . .

(In World War I) War Department officials concluded that 'with careful supervision, women employees may be permitted in camps without moral injury either to themselves or the soldiers, provided the women were of mature age and high moral character."

On Women's Role in Today's Military "Today women serve in all career fields and all locations worldwide in all the services, except in combat. . . .

By categorically excluding women from combat, there is more than just a de facto glass ceiling. It is, in fact, the last remaining legally sanctioned gender discrimination in the country. . . . Some suggest this contributes to a culture in which the contribution of women is undervalued. Some experts have suggested that the current problems that we are experiencing with harassment and other demeaning behaviors is directly related to the lesser respect and esteem that flow from undervaluing their contribution.

"It is not just the single incident of the Tailhook convention. Last year the chief of naval operations testified before Congress that the Navy has a larger cultural problem that must be addressed. For the past six months, the Navy has very aggressively attempted to change the culture. . . . viewing the problem of sexual harassment as a subset of the larger challenge of the need for significant cultural change."

Looking Ahead Thursday: Cleve Jones, founder of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, will speak at Claremont McKenna College, 6:45 p.m. Call (909) 621-8099.

Friday: Gad Yaacobi, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, will address Town Hall of California at the JW Marriott Hotel in Century City, noon. Call (213) 628-8141.

Announcements concerning prominent speakers in Los Angeles should be sent to Speaking Up, c/o Times researcher Nona Yates, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, Calif., 90053

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