“I am the third of four generations in my family to go into the Marine Corps. I am the first woman, first and only woman, to have served out of those four generations."
Colonel Marianne Waldrop served as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1987 until 2011.
"I knew I wanted to be a marine when I was ten, so my intention was to always follow in my father’s footsteps.”
As she rose through the ranks, two limitations on what female officers were allowed to do got in her way.
“The first was I could not go aboard ship as a Marine. … The second thing that I could not do was to be a Marine Corps pilot of any sort.”
As she progressed in her career, both of those roadblocks were eventually lifted. In 1994, the Pentagon declared service members eligible for any position they were qualified for, except that women were still barred from some combat positions. This was the case until 2016, when all combat jobs were officially opened to women. This September, the first female Marine infantry officer was on her way to graduating training. While all of this has been happening, Waldrop has often been asked to talk about it.
“I’ve never really been passionate about women’s rights. ... It’s something that has emerged, because I think I’m uniquely qualified to speak to the issues that have arisen recently. Really what I’m passionate about is good leadership, and I think I was a really good leader. I’m not passionate about being a fabulous intelligence officer. I’m more passionate about being a leader, no matter what the context is.”
Having access to the recently opened combat jobs wouldn’t have made a real difference in her career.
“We all need to be on the team, but we do not all need to be interchangeable.”