- The Washington Times - Monday, January 20, 2014

A female mentorship program called “Divas in Boots” at Fort Stewart Army Base in Georgia is drawing online criticism for focusing on traditional domestic hobbies.

The program is meant to help connect female soldiers who may feel isolated in a male-dominated environment, and they have been cropping up at military bases all over the country, Army Times reported Friday.

“Divas in Boots” launched on Jan. 10 at Fort Stewart, and the reception was mixed.

“It was for housewives, not soldiers — and not all of us are married,” one 21-year-old specialist who attended the event told Army Times. “I would have liked more about universities or [the scholarship program] Green to Gold.”

On the Facebook group “U.S. Army W.T.F.!” one female soldier said the program sounded like “group therapy.”

“Talking about sports bras, makeup brushes and couponing is a conversation that needs to be left outside of work, with a battle buddy or someone,” she said. “If we’re going to have classes like these, then make them more specific to the regulations and standards that we have to uphold.”

But organizer Col. Dianne Pannes said about 90 percent of the feedback she’s received has been positive.

Sfc. Jennifer Kinsey, who leads her brigade’s program, called it “very positive,” and Capt. Katie Martinez, a medical company commander, defended the coupon-clipping class as ” incredibly popular,” Army Times reported.

Sfc. Kinsey also confirmed “Divas in Boots” was the slogan of her brigade’s mentoring program, the newspaper said.

Also offered are tobacco-cessation and nutrition classes, though the women clarified that there is no makeup class offered.

Female mentorship programs are not part of an Army-wide effort, but similar groups have been reported at Fort Jackson, S.C., Fort Shafter, Hawaii, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., and Fort Bragg, N.C., Army Times said.