Women hope to fill ranks of Obama's Pentagon

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Washington, Nov.20 : Some women's groups are hoping that U.S. President-elect Barack Obama will ensure gender balance at the Pentagon.

Army Gen. Ann Dunwoody broke through it last week, becoming the military's first female four-star general. But groups representing women in national security roles want the obstacle to shatter completely.

"Gen. Dunwoody's promotion is the major advance we've been waiting for 10 years," Politico quoted Lory Manning, director of the Women's Research and Education Institute's Women in the Military Project, as saying.

Women make up about 21 percent of the senior civilian ranks of the Pentagon and about 14 percent of the uniformed military.

But since Obama won, Women in International Security, a group that tracks women in national security and intelligence careers, is seeing about double the number of young women looking for government service careers as after past presidential elections, said Jolynn Shoemaker, the group's executive director.

The group is collecting resumus to build a Plum Book of top female candidates for the new administration at all levels of government and plans to meet with Obama's transition team to make recommendations.

And while five of 11 leaders of Obama's national security transition team are women, names in circulation for Cabinet-level positions have predominantly been those of men.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is under serious consideration for secretary of state. Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano has been mentioned as a possible candidate for attorney general or secretary of homeland security. And Obama adviser Susan Rice's name has been bandied about as a contender for national security adviser.

Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) could also be in line for an intelligence post. Illinois Veterans Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth, who lost both legs in the war in Iraq, is mentioned as a possible secretary of Veterans affairs.

Dunwoody is now the commander of Army Materiel Command, which runs the service's multibillion-dollar logistics, supply and contracting efforts.

Still, Dunwoody is not in line for a promotion to the highest ranks of the military, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, because she has never commanded a combat unit. The Army and the Marines bar women from serving in direct-combat infantry or armored units.

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