The gender barrier that stood for nearly two centuries at the United States Military Academy was toppled in 1976. Based on more than one hundred interviews, thousands of pages of Academy documents, and a wide array of secondary sources, this is the first comprehensive history of what the admission of women at West Point meant for the Academy, for the Army, and for the United States. The story of how West Point prepared for the precedent-setting arrival of women has never before been thoroughly told. Given the current interest in the role of women in the armed forces, and the attention focused on The Citadel and VMI when they admitted women, this is a topical story that will appeal to a general audience.
Janda explains how and why female cadets were admitted to West Point and how they responded to the challenge of confronting 175 years of all-male Academy tradition. He argues that neither feminists nor Congress forced the Academy to change standards for women, and that Academy leaders were pioneers in exploring the implications of bringing women into formerly all-male military academies. Stronger than Custom also examines the sacrifices made by the first women cadets at the Academy, each of whom confronted an array of personal and professional hurdles on the road to graduation. When 62 of the original 119 women who entered the Academy in 1976 graduated four years later, they did so in triumph.
About the Author:
LANCE JANDA is an assistant professor of history at Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma. He serves as the book review editor of Minerva: Quarterly Journal of Women in the Military.