West Point in the Making of America

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Class of 1980

Class of 1980


Class of 1980

Following congressional passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972, West Point began preparing contingency plans for admitting women. The end of the draft and the shift to a volunteer army underscored the need for change. In 1975 Congress enacted, and President Ford signed into law, a measure requiring the service academies to admit women in 1976. Perceived and argued as an issue of simple fairness, the change had wide public support.



West Point committed itself to making integration a success. Recognizing the importance of beginning with a substantial number of women, West Point immediately began active recruiting. Of 148 women offered admission, 119 became members of the class of 1980.

At first, groups of 8 to 10 women were assigned to 12 (of 36) cadet companies. By late the following year, all cadet companies included women. Doubts about their ability to meet West Point’s rigorous standards, and even some hostility from male cadets, soon subsided. Within little more than a decade, women had occupied every leadership role in the Corps of Cadets, from squad leader to cadet first captain.





Graduates

Graduates

Which West Point graduate built the first all-steel railroad bridge? Compiled the first accurate map west of the Mississippi? Learn about 51 selected graduates, their achievements, and their families.




Go to Graduates Interactive



Smithsonian National Museum of American History


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West Point in History Introduction 1802–1860 1861–1870 1866–1914 1914–1918 Epilogue Introduction 1802–1860 1861–1870 1866–1914 1914–1918 Epilogue Restoring the Academy The Class the Stars Fell On Making the Modern Academy Class of 1980