Navy Report Blames Commander for Failing to Integrate Women Pilots

A Navy report accuses Captain Dennis Gillespie, the air wing commander of the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln, of failing to adequately integrate female Navy pilots into his carrier. The report, an investigation into the integration of women on the carrier, gives many highlights of Gillespie’s actions and words which created a double standard for the women and men under his command. When asked, by the women pilots, of his assessment of the women’s integration in the spring of 1995, Gillespie commented, “I love my wife and my daughter. [Having women in aviation] is difficult to seeƒbecause I’ve always had this feeling that in this country, the philosophy was that we wouldn’t put our women in harm’s way.” The report comments, “The Navy must train its [commanding officers] and other leaders in communications skills, especially if its expects them to successfully lead a diverse Navy into combat.”

The report pointed to Gillespie as “representative of many in the Navy who, often for reasons beyond their control and not of their choice, have not learned how to effectively communicate with and lead members of the opposite sex.” At another women-only meeting, for example, Gillespie served brownies and cookies and said that the food was better and ship cleaner since the women arrived on board. The extensive use of segregated meetings was also cause for concern among the women. The report found that Gillespie’s most divisive decision was to require mandatory pregnancy tests of all the females. Some women felt this was a tactic used to embarrass and single out the women. Some women refused to comply with the order, and then the issue became whether or not those women would be charged with disobeying an order. Gillespie eventually reversed himself on the pregnancy test policy, but then the men claimed the women were being given preferential treatment.


The Washington Post- July 2, 1997

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