The Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) was established in 1951 by Secretary of Defense, George C. Marshall. The Committee is composed of civilian women and men who are appointed by the Secretary of Defense to provide advice and recommendations on matters and policies relating to the recruitment and retention, treatment, employment, integration, and well-being of highly qualified professional women in the Armed Forces. Historically, DACOWITS' recommendations have been very instrumental in effecting changes to laws and policies pertaining to military women.
The Committee is composed of not more than 20 civilian members, representing a distribution of demography, professional career fields, community service, and geography. Members are selected on the basis of their experience with the military or with women's workforce issues. Members must be U.S. citizens, and are selected without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, mental or physical disability, age, marital status or sexual orientation. Active duty military including members of the National Guard or Reserves, and current federal government employees are not eligible for nomination or Committee membership.
The Committee provides an invaluable service to the Department as an independent body of "citizen" advisors. The Committee's operations and output are focused and formalized. This requires a dedicated core of members who are available to receive specialized training on Service issues and group facilitation techniques, and who can provide meaningful feedback and assessments.
The Committee provides an annual report to the Secretary of Defense with information gathered through installation visits, business meetings, relevant reports and survey data, and input from individual Service members. This combination of research and first-hand experiences provides a solid basis for each DACOWITS recommendation.
The DACOWITS is authorized under the provisions of Public Law 92-463, the Federal Advisory Committee Act. By law, the DACOWITS Charter is valid for two years at a time.