Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008 | 2:06 a.m.
Not many barriers were tougher than the one Barack Obama shattered this month when he became the first black to be elected president of the United States. But Ann Dunwoody obliterated another substantial barrier last week.
On Nov. 14, Dunwoody, 55, became the U.S. military’s first woman to be promoted to four-star general. This is a remarkable achievement for the 33-year Army veteran because few sectors of our society have been more male-dominated than our military service.
This is no token promotion. Dunwoody, a recognized logistics expert, is commander of the Army Materiel Command at Fort Belvoir, Va., which equips and arms all American soldiers worldwide.
Dunwoody very well could become an instant role model for women in the military, although she said at the news conference announcing her promotion that she also hoped to be a role model for the men.
“I never grew up in an environment where I even heard of the words ‘glass ceiling,’ ” Dunwoody said. “It was always ... the glass was always half-full. You could always be anything you wanted to be, if you worked hard. I never felt there were limitations on what I could do.”
It is a curiosity that it has taken so long for a woman to reach this milestone, especially because the first female one-star general in the Army was named in 1970.
Although there continue to be prohibitions against women serving in ground combat, Dunwoody’s promotion holds promise that the roles of female service members will continue to expand. For young women desiring a career in the military, the future now looks brighter.