The head of communications at Boeing has resigned his post after an employee complained about a 33-year-old article he wrote arguing against putting women in combat roles in the military.
Niel Golightly penned the op-ed when he was a 29-year-old lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. It appeared in a magazine published by the U.S. Naval Institute, an outfit which describes itself as “an independent forum for those who dare to read, think, speak, and write to advance the professional, literary, and scientific understanding of sea power and other issues critical to global security.
“At issue is not whether women can fire M-60s, dogfight MiGs, or drive tanks. Introducing women into combat would destroy the exclusively male intangibles of war fighting and the feminine images of what men fight for—peace, home, family,” Golightly wrote, according to an excerpt published on the U.S. Naval Institute’s website.
Women were barred from combat roles throughout American history, including the first term of Barack Obama’s presidency, until the policy was changed in 2013. In 2015, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that all combat jobs would open to women and the following year a handful of women passed combat training courses.
Yet Golightly has resigned over advocating the long-running policy back in 1987 and has now apologized.
“My article was a 29-year-old Cold War navy pilot’s misguided contribution to a debate that was live at the time,” Golightly said in a statement included in Boeing’s announcement. “My argument was embarrassingly wrong and offensive. The article is not a reflection of who I am; but nonetheless I have decided that in the interest of the company I will step down.”
“Boeing does not agree with the views expressed in the article, and it does not reflect Niel’s views today,” the company said.
“Niel and I discussed at length the article and its implications for his role as the Company’s lead spokesman,” said David Calhoun, President and CEO. “I want to emphasize our Company’s unrelenting commitment to diversity and inclusion in all its dimensions, and to ensuring that all of our employees have an equal opportunity to contribute and excel.”
What was policy five years ago is now ground for purging.