Dr. Janice Hauge ’89 returned to Hamilton on Nov. 11 to present the fourth annual General Josiah Bunting III Veterans Day lecture titled “Thoughts on Gender Roles in the Military.” Hauge is an associate professor and director of graduate admissions for the University of North Texas economics department.
Though not a military member, Hauge did qualify for commission as a 2nd lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps following her participation in a Marine leadership training course while enrolled at Hamilton. Her qualification, however, was limited to a support role, as upon graduation from leadership training the field combat restriction for women was still under effect, and as such female marines were not classified within the combat or operational fields.
In January, 2013, things “changed rather dramatically,” she said. Following a recommendation from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced the lifting of the 1948 Combat Exclusion Policy, giving all branches of the military a three year window to open themselves up to full female inclusion in combat operations. “The first question that I’m asking is why?” said Hauge. She suggested that rather than practical concerns, it had been outside pressures to promote gender equality that were at the heart of the 2013 decision.
To sort out the answer to this query, Hauge turned to economic analysis. “I believe that gender is a basic physiological reality,” she said; a statement which she argued “has unfortunately become politicized.” Moving on from that assumption, Hauge claimed that to ignore said differences would “neglect the unique contributions that men and women can bring to certain roles and tasks.” She argued for an increased focus on comparative advantage and the opportunity costs of service in order to identify the practices that maximize military efficiency.
Hauge was quick to point out that women have served historically in the military dating back to the days of the Revolution and the Civil War, often operating as nurses, and occasionally as spies. “Women have always served in the military,” she said. “They have served where the military needs them, based on their skills and talents.”
“It seems important to me that the military gets to make this decision, rather than policy makers or the general public,” continued Hauge. She went on to conclude that she believes the U.S. military to be a remarkable organization, capable of determining its own problems and needs, and characterized the servicemen and women of the armed forces as being among “the most remarkable, understanding, and often godly” people she had ever met.
Hauge’s lecture was sponsored by the Alexander Hamilton Institute Undergraduate Fellows.