U.S. Defense Secretary Promotes ‘Lean In’ Groups to Help Boost Women in Military Leadership

Ash Carter says the military force should reflect the nation it protects

Veteran Women and Spouses

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In an effort to improve the number of women and minorities in military leadership positions, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Monday that he will be endorsing “Lean In” discussion groups to foster conversations around the military’s need for greater diversity.

Carter and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, who is the author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, will meet with 15 women from all ranks of the military service who already hold “Lean In” groups of their own. Following these meetings, Carter will hold a news conference where he announces his plan to create more of these groups at government facilities and during work hours.

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“If you look at the numbers, it’s clear we are not where we should be in terms of the leadership reflecting the overall force,” Reuters reports Carter saying. “It’s important that our force reflects the nation it protects.”

Currently, women make up about 15% of the U.S. military, and while thousands have served alongside men in Iraq and Afghanistan, women leave the service during the mid-career phase at twice the rate of men. Carter’s public support of “Lean In” is a part of his larger initiative called “Force of the Future,” which aims to bring military workplace practices more in line with the changing demographic of the civilian world.

The Lean In Foundation, which has now spread to 120 countries, provides free online material on a range of topics including ways to fight gender bias in the workplace and the key principles of leadership. Since the foundation’s inception, its focus has been on helping women tackle the ongoing challenges they face in their careers, but this year the organization has encouraged men to join the movement as well.



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