Mandatory Selective Service Registration for Men, but Not Women?

On May 18, 1917, six weeks after the United States entered World War 1, Congress passed the Selective Service Act, which currently states all young men between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five must register for the Selective Service, more commonly known as the draft. Congress believed this to be a crucial action after observing the necessity of a draft in WWI; the United States had to be prepared in case such an occasion called for a multitude of soldiers again. However, they did not know the controversy it could cause a hundred years later: whether women should be required to register for the Selective Service or not.

If women are drafted, they would be required, by law, to fulfill the same military requirements as men. This issue is complicated because the official army website ( clearly states women have different requirements than men to join the military, so it would make sense for them not to register for the Selective Service unless they could fulfill the same requirements as men. According to, the official Selective Service website, “Selective Service law as it’s written now refers specifically to ‘male persons.’” Therefore, the Selective Service feels they are only following the law. From a media perspective, from the San Diego Union-Tribune states, “Would you be comfortable with the idea of your daughter, granddaughter, wife or mother being drafted and involuntarily assigned to a ground combat role? This could happen if women are required to register for the [Selective Service], as some propose, and compulsory military service were reinstituted.” The author also later states they are not sexist and think women should join the military if they please but should not register for the Selective Service.

When the Selective Service Act was put in place, women were not allowed to fight in the military. However, on January 24, 2013, the government decided that women could serve in direct combat roles, including on the frontlines. In 2015, while discussing this important topic, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter was asked about Selective Service for women and stated, “That is a matter of legal dispute right now,” ( In Fenbruary of 2019, Judge Miller of the Southern District of Texas, who attended the United States Merchant Marine Academy,  announced, “While historical restrictions on women in the military may have justified past discrimination, men and women are now ‘similarly situated for purposes of [the Selective Service] or registration for a draft.’” Some may call the Selective Service Act sexist as it is exclusive to men and has been in effect for a little over a century. Many would say that this act is outdated and should be adapted to modern views. This raises an issue of equality in a world where women have fought for the right to vote, play the same sports, and for equal pay.

Shouldn’t women be held to the same standards as men in the military?