Boeing exec apologizes, resigns over decades-old opinion on women in combat

The embattled aircraft company Boeing has just lost a higher-up.

Boeing communications director Niel Golightly is resigning following a complaint about an article that he wrote over three decades ago. 

What did he write?

It all stems back to a 1987 article that Golightly wrote for the U.S. Naval Institute magazine, The New York Post reported.

In that article, then-29-year-old Golightly put forth an argument for why he believed that “laws barring women from com­bat” should not be repealed.

“At issue is not whether women can fire M-60s, dogfight MiGs, or drive tanks,” he wrote. “Introducing women into combat would destroy the exclusively male intangibles of warfighting and the feminine images of what men fight for — peace, home, family.”

Apparently, a Boeing employee recently filed an anonymous complaint about the three-decades-old article, and it was this that led to Golightly stepping down on Thursday.

For the good of the company

Golightly says he no longer holds the views that he expressed in that article.

“My article was a 29-year-old Cold War navy pilot’s misguided contribution to a debate that was lively at the time,” he said. “The dialogue that followed its publication 33 years ago quickly opened my eyes, indelibly changed my mind, and shaped the principles of fairness, inclusion, respect and diversity that have guided my professional life since.”

Nonetheless, Golightly said that he has decided to resign from Boeing for the good of the company. Boeing, of course, has had a lot of problems since 2019 when two of the company’s 737 Max planes crashed killing a total of 346 passengers.

In addition to Golightly resigning, Boeing has also released a statement expressing its opposition to the views in the 1987 article.

Boeing’s response

David Calhoun, the company’s president and CEO, said in a statement that Boeing has an “unrelenting commitment to diversity and inclusion in all its dimensions.” He added that he “greatly respect[s] Niel for stepping down in the interest of the company.”

Golightly has now left his senior vice president of communications position after only having been on the job for about six months. A replacement for Golightly has yet to be announced by Boeing.

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