Gender Integration and the Military

Webcast recording

Join the SNF Agora Institute as we celebrate women’s advancement in the military while also examining progress yet to be made. Grace Park, SNF Agora Visiting Fellow and former Army captain, will offer a brief presentation on the history and achievements of women in the U.S. military from the Revolutionary War until the present, followed by a critical examination of the culture of the military around gender with Paula Thornhill, a retired U.S. Air Force general and lecturer at Johns Hopkins SAIS, and Ellen Haring, a retired US Army colonel and lecturer at Georgetown University who in 2012 sued the Pentagon for its policies excluding women from combat positions.

The panelists will talk about their personal experiences in the military and share insights on the integration process so far, along with steps the U.S. military might need to take to continue to improve.


Ellen Haring is a senior fellow at Women in International Security where she directs the Combat Integration Initiative. She is the former CEO of the Service Women’s Action Network. Haring’s research and work focuses on women and gender in the military. She is a West Point graduate and a retired U.S. Army colonel. She holds a PhD in Conflict Analysis and Resolution and she has taught at the US Army Command and General Staff College, the US Army War College and Georgetown University. Haring has published numerous articles and papers on a wide array of military and security related topics. She guest lectures, has testified before Congress as a subject matter expert and has been a guest speaker on foreign and domestic news shows.

Paula Thornhill is Acting Director of the Strategic Studies program at Johns Hopkins SAIS. Prior to joining JHU/SAIS she was the director of the Strategy and Doctrine Program within RAND Project AIR FORCE. Thornhill retired from the US Air Force as a brigadier general in 2009. Her last assignment was as the commandant of the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (2006-09). Just prior to her time as commandant, Thornhill served as the acting DASD, Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. She served previously, among other things, as the dean of Faculty and Academic Programs at the National War College and as special assistant to the 15th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She holds a BS from the US Air Force Academy, an MA from Stanford University, and a DPhil from Oxford University. Thornhill is the author of Demystifying the American Military (2019).

Headshot of Grace Park, SNF Agora Visiting FellowGrace Park, moderator, is an SNF Agora Visiting Fellow and a former United States Army Captain. In 2016, they commissioned through the MIT Army ROTC program into the US Army Signal Corps. Following their first tour overseas at Camp Humphreys, South Korea, they were appointed to be the first female communications officer for 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, of the 101st Airborne Division. They have served tours overseas including Italy, Tunisia, and Djibouti and are a recipient of the Kilbourne Leadership Award from the U.S. Army Cyber of Center of Excellence.

SNF Agora Institute programs are supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF).