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Offline cbillin

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Questions Regarding Becoming Female Officer
« on: November 23, 2016, 23:08:40 »
Hello all,

I've read through multiple forums and haven't been able to find the exact answers i'm looking for. First off, i'm considering entering the military as an officer (a female officer at that). I'm particularly drawn to the infantry, so an infantry officer is looking like my best bet. Has anyone ever had/encountered a female infantry officer? I'm worried about how a group of mostly males would feel about being led by a woman. I know I could do it, i'm just curious to know the thoughts/feelings surrounding the idea.

ALSO, I'm also considering the NCM route first. I've talked to a few officers who said they wished they went NCM first because you form better relationships. As an officer, you can't really 'hang out' with your NCM's that you're managing. The military has an allure to me because of the strong bonds and friendships that are garnered. So from that aspect, the NCM route seems more appealing. Does anyone have any words of advice or thoughts on this?

I apologize if there's a similar thread out there.

Thanks everyone!

Offline dangerboy

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Re: Questions Regarding Becoming Female Officer
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2016, 01:35:21 »
I can only speak for myself but I have worked with both male and female officers and the only difference is if I say Sir or Ma'am. I only care about can they do their job.
All right, they're on our left, they're on our right, they're in front of us, they're behind us... they can't get away this time.
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Offline Oldgateboatdriver

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Re: Questions Regarding Becoming Female Officer
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2016, 08:46:30 »
cbillin, google up "Captain Nichola Goddard".

Female infantry officers exist in the CF and are properly respected and followed by the troops, so long as they are deserving of such respect to the same extent as their male counterparts.

Good luck.
 

Offline Brasidas

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Re: Questions Regarding Becoming Female Officer
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2016, 08:47:39 »
Hello all,

I've read through multiple forums and haven't been able to find the exact answers i'm looking for. First off, i'm considering entering the military as an officer (a female officer at that). I'm particularly drawn to the infantry, so an infantry officer is looking like my best bet. Has anyone ever had/encountered a female infantry officer? I'm worried about how a group of mostly males would feel about being led by a woman. I know I could do it, i'm just curious to know the thoughts/feelings surrounding the idea.

ALSO, I'm also considering the NCM route first. I've talked to a few officers who said they wished they went NCM first because you form better relationships. As an officer, you can't really 'hang out' with your NCM's that you're managing. The military has an allure to me because of the strong bonds and friendships that are garnered. So from that aspect, the NCM route seems more appealing. Does anyone have any words of advice or thoughts on this?

I apologize if there's a similar thread out there.

Thanks everyone!

Do you want to join the reserve or reg force?

There may not be much in the way of an officer cadre at a reserve unit, if that's a surprise for you and you're looking for peers.

Gender's pretty irrelevant. I've worked with males and females of a variety of backgrounds, as subordinates and leaders. My thoughts and feelings are that competence and integrity dictate how both males and females respond to leadership.

There's nothing wrong with being an NCM first. If what you want out of the military is "strong bonds and friendships", go for it.

Offline Journeyman

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Re: Questions Regarding Becoming Female Officer
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2016, 09:16:39 »
cbillin, google up "Captain Nichola Goddard".
Not to diminish, but for clarity, Capt G wasn't infantry;  she was merely  Artillery.   :stirpot:


Once upon a time (back when the earth was still cooling), our Infantry Battalion had two Rifle Companies in Kosovo; each had a female Platoon commander (and two males). 

One was terrific, occasionally made mistakes (as Lts do), accepted and learned from them; her troops respected her.  Last I heard, she was a LCol, after having commanded a Rifle Coy in Afghanistan.

The other was whiney and self-centred.  Every mistake was countered with, "you're picking on me because I'm a girl"; her troops quite rightly despised her. She got out right after the deployment, and I imagine she's still whining about how the Canadian military should be disbanded for failing to treat her as a goddess.... or something equally stupid.


The key take-away:  it's up to you, your personality, your willingness to learn, adapt, and persevere. Yes, the troops do judge -- that's not limited to female or male leadership; it's up to each of us to be that role model.

Oh, and one benefit of going the NCM route first is, you will eventually rise to leadership positions (leadership is definitely not just an officer thing!), but you will have more time to develop those skills.... more role models to observe, in order to adopt good / avoid bad behaviours.

Offline Pusser

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Re: Questions Regarding Becoming Female Officer
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2016, 13:57:39 »
Capt Ashley Collette was an infantry officer and won the Medal of Military Valour:  http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24622762

And from the GG's website:

Captain Ashley Collette, M.M.V.
Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
Medal of Military Valour
Decoration awarded on November 30, 2011
Rank: Captain

As a platoon commander from May to December 2010, Captain Collette demonstrated front line leadership that was critical to her soldiers’ success during intense combat in Afghanistan. Stationed in volatile Nakhonay, her platoon regularly faced the threat posed by improvised explosive devices, all while repelling numerous attacks on their base. Despite suffering casualties within the group, she kept her soldiers focused and battle-ready; her desire to succeed never wavered. Captain Collette’s fortitude under fire and performance in combat were critical to defeating the enemy and disrupting all insurgent attempts to reoccupy this key village.


On a completely different note, although commendable in many ways, be very careful about deciding to join as an NCM and then becoming an officer later.  This is probably the most difficult route.  For several (and some inexplicable) reasons, it is actually easier for an untested teenager to join the CAF as an officer than for a tested and proven NCM to become one.  A lot of this I think is because that "tested and proven" NCM has a service record that can be examined in detail and can be held against him/her  ;D.  Furthermore, commissioning programs from within the CAF are very competitive and the road to a commission is very much skewed in favour of the external applicant.  All arguments as to the wisdom of this situation aside, it is the reality.

Good luck.
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Online mariomike

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Re: Questions Regarding Becoming Female Officer
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2016, 14:06:29 »
I'm also considering the NCM route first. I've talked to a few officers who said they wished they went NCM first because you form better relationships. As an officer, you can't really 'hang out' with your NCM's that you're managing. The military has an allure to me because of the strong bonds and friendships that are garnered. So from that aspect, the NCM route seems more appealing. Does anyone have any words of advice or thoughts on this?

I apologize if there's a similar thread out there.

Officer/NCM differences 
https://army.ca/forums/index.php?topic=171.0
23 pages.

NCM to Officer (UTPNCM) Merged Thread 
http://army.ca/forums/index.php?topic=82016.0
22 pages.

Officer or NCM?
https://army.ca/forums/index.php?topic=105093.0

Transfer from NCM to Officer 
https://army.ca/forums/index.php?topic=123732.0

etc...
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Offline cbillin

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Re: Questions Regarding Becoming Female Officer
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2016, 14:19:43 »
Thanks Mariomike for those threads! I'm still trying to figure out how to effectively search this forum, I guess i'm not as tech savvy as I thought I was.

Thank you everyone for the responses! I read Captain Collette's story and it's inspiring. She seemed to form a great bond with her platoon, as anyone would if confined in close quarters I assume.

I've read on other threads that moving up the ranks, officers usually end up behind a desk. Can anyone attest to this? If I go the officer route, I want to be assured I would work alongside soldiers. Do Infantry Officers jump from platoon to platoon?

Any information on this would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance everyone!

Online mariomike

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Re: Questions Regarding Becoming Female Officer
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2016, 14:21:10 »
Thanks Mariomike for those threads!

You are welcome. Good luck.  :)

I've read on other threads that moving up the ranks, officers usually end up behind a desk. Can anyone attest to this?

Officers…only desk jobs?
http://army.ca/forums/index.php?topic=113834.0
2 pages.

Friendly Advice for potential Infantry Officer candidates 
http://army.ca/forums/index.php?topic=99437.0
5 pages.

Women in the Combat Arms/Infantry/SF/Combat (merged)
http://army.ca/forums/index.php?topic=2420.0#
44 pages.

Women in the military, what's it like? Male and Female views appreciated
https://army.ca/forums/index.php?topic=122259.0

etc...
« Last Edit: November 24, 2016, 14:56:57 by mariomike »
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Offline Brihard

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Re: Questions Regarding Becoming Female Officer
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2016, 16:10:49 »
The process for becoming an officer is the same for females

The process for becoming a female is the same for officers.
Pacificsm is doctrine fostered by a delusional minority and by the media, which holds forth the proposition it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.

Offline George Wallace

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Re: Questions Regarding Becoming Female Officer
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2016, 18:11:01 »
Oppsie!

 [:D
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Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: Questions Regarding Becoming Female Officer
« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2016, 18:26:45 »
The process for becoming an officer is the same for females

The process for becoming a female is the same for officers.

Win!  [:D
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Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: Questions Regarding Becoming Female Officer
« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2016, 18:29:39 »
Hello all,

I've read through multiple forums and haven't been able to find the exact answers i'm looking for. First off, i'm considering entering the military as an officer (a female officer at that). I'm particularly drawn to the infantry, so an infantry officer is looking like my best bet. Has anyone ever had/encountered a female infantry officer? I'm worried about how a group of mostly males would feel about being led by a woman. I know I could do it, i'm just curious to know the thoughts/feelings surrounding the idea.

ALSO, I'm also considering the NCM route first. I've talked to a few officers who said they wished they went NCM first because you form better relationships. As an officer, you can't really 'hang out' with your NCM's that you're managing. The military has an allure to me because of the strong bonds and friendships that are garnered. So from that aspect, the NCM route seems more appealing. Does anyone have any words of advice or thoughts on this?

I apologize if there's a similar thread out there.

Thanks everyone!

The female Officers I have seen in the Infantry have been good. If you can get through Phase II and III Inf, and the failure rate is pretty steep, you can do just about anything AFAIC.
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline ballz

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Re: Questions Regarding Becoming Female Officer
« Reply #13 on: November 24, 2016, 18:45:00 »
I've read on other threads that moving up the ranks, officers usually end up behind a desk. Can anyone attest to this? If I go the officer route, I want to be assured I would work alongside soldiers. Do Infantry Officers jump from platoon to platoon?

Yes, the higher you move up, the more time you spend away from your soldiers and more time in an office. Your first job as a platoon commander and a few other jobs as a junior officer* are really the only time where you directly lead troops.... if you are lucky you will get a longer go (2 years) as a platoon commander, or spend time as the Recce Platoon Commander or something where you will also directly lead troops. However, after that, your next command roles are as a Major as an OC where your direct subordinate commanders are the platoon commanders (officers), and then in the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel as a CO where your subordinate commanders are the OCs (Majors). The other jobs that Majors fulfill are generally not directly leading troops.

Your "baseline" job is a platoon commander, and you don't generally jump from platoon to platoon. You get your platoon for 6 months (unusual), between one to two years (the norm), and sometimes (rarely) a bit longer. Sometimes platoon commanders switch platoons but its rare, and it doesn't really extend their time as a platoon commander. Then you "progress" to more senior jobs, and could spend the rest of your career longing to be a platoon commander again.

*For example, I went from Platoon Commander to a LAV Capt. I generally spend a lot of time with HQ personnel and my vehicle crew in the field consists of a Corporal and a Private right now. The Company 2IC in the field has his own vehicle crew with personnel to run the CP. The Bn's Transport Officer has a similar set-up to a rifle platoon, just with a different role. Same deal with Recce Platoon which is also led by a junior officer.
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Offline Jarnhamar

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Re: Questions Regarding Becoming Female Officer
« Reply #14 on: November 24, 2016, 19:37:15 »
Your first job as a platoon commander and a few other jobs as a junior officer* are really the only time where you directly lead troops
Some might argue a platoon commander trying to directly lead troops would be stepping on NCO toes  ;D
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Offline ballz

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Re: Questions Regarding Becoming Female Officer
« Reply #15 on: November 24, 2016, 21:30:49 »
Some might argue a platoon commander trying to directly lead troops would be stepping on NCO toes  ;D

I think you know what I mean. Your direct subordinates are actually NCMs, the men and women who do the "doing." You live with them, they see you every day, and you are with them throughout the execution of most tasks. You're the actual face of the officer corps at that level.
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Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: Questions Regarding Becoming Female Officer
« Reply #16 on: November 25, 2016, 18:09:17 »
I think you know what I mean. Your direct subordinates are actually NCMs, the men and women who do the "doing." You live with them, they see you every day, and you are with them throughout the execution of most tasks. You're the actual face of the officer corps at that level.

And if you suck, you are the 'two faces' of the Officer Corps at that level :)

This is pretty good advice: https://www.military1.com/all/article/647-dont-be-a-douche-15-rules-to-effectively-lead-a-platoon/
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline Jarnhamar

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Re: Questions Regarding Becoming Female Officer
« Reply #17 on: November 25, 2016, 19:44:41 »
I think you know what I mean. Your direct subordinates are actually NCMs, the men and women who do the "doing." You live with them, they see you every day, and you are with them throughout the execution of most tasks. You're the actual face of the officer corps at that level.

I would still suggest that a platoon commanders direct subordinates are section commanders but I understand what you're saying about face time between troops and officers at that level(and maybe I'm arguing semantics) I actually enjoy having platoon commanders co-located with the platoon as often as possible but the army doesn't seem to like that.

With regard to the OP the context seems like shes talking about having a career where she's assured a close working relationship with platoon members.  As you said in your post platoon commanders don't stay there very long. They're parachuted out of the platoons pretty fast.


Cbillin,
Lots of great advice here for you. 
Just understand that there still are a lot of biased people out there, some keep it to themselves and some don't. When an officer makes a mistake it seems like it's 10 times worse then when an NCM does. When a female in the CAF makes a mistake it seems like it's 20 times worse (people's reactions). 
Female officer in the infantry? I'm going to guess that it's pretty damn cut throat.

Don't get too stuck on a romanticized version of what being an infantry officer will be. You could very well get your first platoon and everyone hates you just because they're dicks like that.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2016, 07:42:12 by Jarnhamar »
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Offline ballz

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Re: Questions Regarding Becoming Female Officer
« Reply #18 on: November 26, 2016, 11:40:59 »
I would still suggest that a platoon commanders direct subordinates are section commanders

Yes, they are section commanders, who are NCMs (Sr NCOs are NCMs). Now we are gone down a semantics rabbit hole  ;D

but I understand what you're saying about face time between troops and officers at that level

That's really the point here, regardless of the semantics.

I actually enjoy having platoon commanders co-located with the platoon as often as possible but the army doesn't seem to like that.

A debate in our Battalion that's been ongoing for at least four years now (more likely since dinosaurs walked the earth) since the platoon commanders in my company moved "downstairs," is whether the platoon commanders in garrison should be "upstairs" in the HQ office with the OC / 2IC / LAV Capt / CSM / clerk / etc or should he/she be "downstairs" in the platoon office.

Having done one year "upstairs" and one year "downstairs," I can say for sure that I sit on the downstairs side of argument. And you're right, there does seem to be mostly an adverse opinion towards it.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2016, 11:53:16 by ballz »
Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.
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Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: Questions Regarding Becoming Female Officer
« Reply #19 on: November 26, 2016, 13:02:21 »
...
A debate in our Battalion that's been ongoing for at least four years now (more likely since dinosaurs walked the earth) since the platoon commanders in my company moved "downstairs," is whether the platoon commanders in garrison should be "upstairs" in the HQ office with the OC / 2IC / LAV Capt / CSM / clerk / etc or should he/she be "downstairs" in the platoon office.

Having done one year "upstairs" and one year "downstairs," I can say for sure that I sit on the downstairs side of argument. And you're right, there does seem to be mostly an adverse opinion towards it.



It was certainly going on 50 years ago!

In our battalion the prevailing view ~ well, it was the colonel's view so it didn't really matter what anybody else might have thought   :nod: ~ was also on the "downstairs' side. Only a few specialist platoon commanders (Signals, Transport, Maintenance, etc) had real office, rifle platoon commanders and even most support platoon commanders had a 6 foot folding table in the platoon locker area, and they shared that with their platoon sergeants. That was enough, in my experience, and, almost 15 years later, when I was the colonel  :warstory: I also came down on the "downstairs" side and my troop commanders shared space with their WOs in the troop rooms. I expected squadron 2ICs, who had offices, to help the more junior officers with the day-to-day administrivia and to teach the younger officers how to administer soldiers efficiently and effectively, which meant both:

     + Face to face, most of the time; and

     + Quickly and personally.

Things that required a high degree of privacy and would take some time were, as likely as not, going to be handled by the OC or even me, anyway.

I wanted my troop commanders to be focused, mainly, on their soldiers, and on their kit, and on the troop level training and maintenance tasks ... that's best done away from an office.
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Offline George Wallace

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Re: Questions Regarding Becoming Female Officer
« Reply #20 on: November 26, 2016, 13:06:13 »
We had our Sqn Comds, SSMs, Battle Capts, and OR Staff in the HQ building; while all our Troop Officers shared offices with the Troop NCOs down at the hangars.  The Troopies (Tprs and Cpls) worked on the hangar floor. 
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Offline ballz

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Re: Questions Regarding Becoming Female Officer
« Reply #21 on: November 26, 2016, 16:41:36 »
It was certainly going on 50 years ago!

Hilarious. I assumed so.

rifle platoon commanders and even most support platoon commanders had a 6 foot folding table in the platoon locker area, and they shared that with their platoon sergeants.

Well I suppose some things have changed haha. We have 3x platoon offices downstairs in the company lines with 4-5 desks / computers, and just around the corner is the rest of the stores area with platoon cages. Depending on who is running the show, the office can become a bit of a clubhouse full of Ptes/Cpls surfing the Facebook and Autotrader. When I moved downstairs, we kicked the troops out and made it an actual workplace.

I've been lobbying to have the LAV Capts move downstairs working side-by-side with the Coy Tpt Sgts in the LAV barn but no one seems to understand why a LAV Capt might want to be involved with the LAV fleet... :facepalm:

I wanted my troop commanders to be focused, mainly, on their soldiers, and on their kit, and on the troop level training and maintenance tasks ... that's best done away from an office.

Indeed. As I have told our current Platoon Commanders (who are now positioned upstairs :pullhair:), you can't lead from the Command Post.

We had our Sqn Comds, SSMs, Battle Capts, and OR Staff in the HQ building; while all our Troop Officers shared offices with the Troop NCOs down at the hangars.  The Troopies (Tprs and Cpls) worked on the hangar floor.

That's a similar set-up to how we were in my 2nd year as a Pl Comd, except instead of being in an HQ building the OC/2IC/LAV Capt/CSM/etc were upstairs in a coy HQ office... mind you, our building is rather large, they may as well be on the other end of the base at that point. It sure was nice to get downstairs and away from that area!
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Offline Rick Goebel

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Re: Questions Regarding Becoming Female Officer
« Reply #22 on: November 26, 2016, 17:29:47 »
There isn't only the question of how far away from the troops you are but also how close to higher you are.

I spent most of my first 15 years in the reserves in a building that housed only the rifle company I was in.  This could be a bad thing since, when I was Company 2 I/C, I was also OIC Armoury, Unit Fire Prevention Officer, Unit Safety Officer, Unit Security Officer and more.

On the good side, BHQ was a half hour drive away and District HQ was an hour drive away.  We didn't get a lot of visitors.

My remaining 16 years were mostly spent in an building that usually had BHQ just feet away and District HQ just up the stairs.

These were way different experiences.
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Offline AK

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Re: Questions Regarding Becoming Female Officer
« Reply #23 on: November 29, 2016, 10:18:32 »
Cbillin,
Lots of great advice here for you. 
Just understand that there still are a lot of biased people out there, some keep it to themselves and some don't. When an officer makes a mistake it seems like it's 10 times worse then when an NCM does. When a female in the CAF makes a mistake it seems like it's 20 times worse (people's reactions). 
Female officer in the infantry? I'm going to guess that it's pretty damn cut throat.

Don't get too stuck on a romanticized version of what being an infantry officer will be. You could very well get your first platoon and everyone hates you just because they're dicks like that.

cbillin,

Jarnhamar makes good points.  The CAF is not a gender-neutral environment yet.  There are still members that don't believe women should serve in the military in ANY capacity, let alone the combat arms, but they are much less vocal about their views than they were in decades past.  Harassment and discrimination are generally more subtle and insidious in today's military.

That being said, over my decades of service, I've known other women in almost every trade and classification.  Each woman's experience is unique and I would hesitate to generalize based on any individual. To a certain degree, the overall experience depends on the luck of the draw, whether you luck out and have superior training staff, leaders, and peers, or draw the short straw and have to deal with the chauvinists, misogynists, or the just plain stupid. Most of us deal with a mixture of the good, bad, and great.  And it's the great people that keep you in uniform.

If you really want to do it, do it.  But go in with your eyes open and realistic expectations.  Joining the combat arms isn't easy for anyone, and is likely to be even harder for as a woman.  But for those it suits, it is a challenging, rewarding career.

Good luck!