Sergeant Major

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Sergeant Major (Ret.) Judith P. Ackerman, 2020. Digital image with paper collage. 24 x 36 inches.


Changing symbols, changing attitudes, changing society one step at a time: the battle for women’s equality has been hard-fought on many fronts. When Judy Ackerman entered the US Army in 1980 the size of rank insignia that enlisted women wore on their Class A uniforms was less than half the size of men’s. Trained from Day One to salute and address other soldiers according to their relative rank, Judy deeply felt the lack of respect this size difference implied. So she decided to do something about it. First she talked to her superiors, filled out forms, went through channels. When none of these worked she began writing letters to everyone she could think of: newspapers, women’s organizations, elected officials, and even then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. Other Army personnel joined the campaign for change and after several years Judy’s persistence paid off. In 1998 the Army issued new guidelines which authorized women and men to wear the same rank insignia to “dispel any perception of inferiority, sexism or discrimination.”


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