Navy has poor female retention rate

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — The Navy retains female sailors at half the rate it holds on to men. One result is that it doesn’t have enough senior enlisted women on some ships stationed overseas, leaders of the Navy say.

The Navy’s top commander for personnel said the service has repeatedly learned problems develop if a ship has many junior enlisted females but no senior enlisted women on board to mentor them.

Vice Adm. William Moran said during a visit to Pearl Harbor on Thursday he thinks the fundamental reason is that women want to start families and need more time to do so. This often makes women choose between staying in uniform and starting a family, he said.

“What can we do different that doesn’t make that choice so hard? Or gives them an opportunity to go and then come back?” Moran said.

Women account for 19 percent of all sailors in the Navy, but they make up just 10 to 11 percent of the senior enlisted ranks.

Moran called retaining women at a rate that allows the Navy to sustain the workforce one of the Navy’s most significant challenges. The poor retention rate is the same across ranks, Moran said, from officer to junior enlisted.

Moran said commanders are talking to sailors to learn what changes could be made to encourage women to stay. “We’re looking at everything we can possibly do to change that dynamic,” he said.

The Navy currently offers women six weeks of paid maternity leave. New mothers may also defer deployments for a year. Adoptive mothers are eligible for three weeks of paid maternity leave and may defer deployments for four months.

The Navy has already experimented with reforms. A pilot program allows men and women to take sabbaticals, for example.

Other senior leaders including Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and the chief of naval operations have made addressing the low retention rate for women a priority.

Legislation before the U.S. Congress may also help. The Military Opportunities for Mothers Act would enable women giving birth an additional six weeks off unpaid, for a total of three months of maternity leave.

The bill aligns military maternity leave with guidelines for other federal employees, U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, who introduced the legislation with Rep. Kristi Noem, a Republican from South Dakota, said in a news release on the legislation. The bill would allow commanders to recall women to duty if needed.

The House passed the legislation Wednesday as an amendment to a defense spending bill.

More in Local News

These little piggies stay home

Norman, who was spotted last week in Everett, is part of a trio kept as pets by the “pig whisperer.”

Cheering families welcome Kidd, Shoup after 6 months at sea

“I get back Daddy back today,” said one homemade sign at Naval Station Everett.

Stanwood man, 33, killed in crash near Marysville

Speed may have been a factor, the sheriff’s department said.

Street-legal ATVs approved for some roads near Sultan

Supporters foresee tourism benefits. Opponents are concerned about injury and pollution risks.

Jamie Copeland is a senior at Cedar Park Christian Schools’ Mountlake Terrace campus. She is a basketball player, ASB president, cheerleader and, of course, a Lion. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Cedar Park Christian senior stepping up to new challenges

Jamie Copeland’s academics include STEM studies, leadership, ASB activities, honor society.

Woman, 47, found dead in Marysville jail cell

She’d been in custody about four days after being arrested on warrants, police said.

County plans to sue to recoup costs from ballot drop-box law

A quarter-million dollars could be spent adding 19 ballot boxes in rural areas.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s top images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Mukilteo Police Chief Cheol Kang is known for his people skills

The city’s top cop’s calm demeanor and holistic approach earns him the nickname “Yoda.”

Most Read