SAN DIEGO, Calif. (WLUC) The first female Marine enlisted in 1918 for clerical duty. Today, women serve in 93-percent of all occupational fields in the Marine Corps.
(Courtesy: Lance Corporal Harley Robinson)
Recently, all jobs in the military became open to women, combat roles included.
"You've got to be built for it; you've got to have the personality for it," said Staff Sergeant Mari Becker, who served in a combat roll.
When Staff Sergeant Mari Becker enlisted 16 years ago, she never thought of it as a male or female career choice; it was just a life choice.
"Back when I joined in 2000, I was... I've always been motivated, I've always loved the Marine Corps," said Staff Sergeant Becker. "I used to always say, 'I can do what the guys do, I want to do it, I want to do it.' And I got my opportunity to do that in Iraq."
Staff Sergeant Becker went through boot camp like all female Marines do, in South Carolina.
"They go to MCRD Parris Island, and the females and males, we do the exact same training," said Lance Corporal Harley Robinson, Combat Correspondent. "Some of the standards are lower, but instead of pull-ups we'll do 'flex arm' just because physically, females are built differently."
Although all the Drill Instructors are female, Staff Sergeant Becker says, the effect they have on recruits is the same.
"I think they do their jobs as Drill Instructors in creating us, and setting that foundation for us. My experience there [at boot camp] was awesome," said Staff Sergeant Becker.
"Instead of brotherhood, we have a sisterhood ... and it's a great experience," added Lance Corporal Robinson.
Lance Corporal Robinson serves as a Combat Correspondent, similar to a civilian job in Public Relations.
"So in Public Affairs, my MOS has been open to females and as a female in this job, we do exactly the same thing as all the male Marines do," Lance Corporal Robinson said. "It doesn't really matter, female or male. It's still a great job. I love going out there, I love writing, I love photography."
Recently the Department of Defense opened all combat roles to women who serve, and as Staff Sergeant Becker mentioned, she got a taste of infantry life while stationed in Iraq. Becker was one of just three female Marines serving in a military police company; the rest were men.
"We got to do everything that the guys did, and everything you see in the movies," Staff Sergeant Becker added. "You know, during that deployment, I said, 'you know what? They can keep this.' You know, I love the opportunity that I got to do it, and it was definitely an experience that no one can ever take away from me, and I've served my purpose as 'overall Marine', of not just doing boot camp and being a Marine, but actually doing the infantry lifestyle."
She's now the mother of a little girl, and when she retires this year, hopes to start a new career as a makeup artist. Becker says, she's sacrificed a lot in her personal life, but believes in leading by example.
"I hope that my daughter will admire that, and respect that, and hopefully, follow in my footsteps and serve her country when she becomes 18, and at least do four years, and give back to this great country," said Becker.
"Honestly, once you're in uniform, you're not male or female ... you are a Marine," Lance Corporal Robinson added. "It's a great experience, and I think everyone should consider it as an option."