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Published: Wednesday, 5/5/2010

Breaking the glass floor

THE U.S. Navy has finally given the green light to female officers - and eventually, female recruits - to serve on America's submarines.

Women have been allowed to serve on surface ships for two decades. Submarines have been more problematic because of the lack of space for separate quarters and privacy.

Because submarines are larger than they used to be, living quarters have been redesigned. Nineteen female officers will join submarine forces in 2011 or 2012. They will be followed by nonofficer female recruits as the military continues its outreach to women.

This is a welcome development in military history. Too many women have skills that can be useful to submarine missions to maintain the status quo.

The first women to integrate submarines will be officers, so sexual harassment probably won't be an issue for them. Their integration into the ranks will lay the groundwork for other female recruits. No fewer than three women will serve on submarines at one time.

Kudos to the Navy for recognizing the potential of female recruits and making the necessary accommodations to achieve it.

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