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caption: Boeing employees smoke in a designated smoking area on Monday, December 16, 2019, in Renton.
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Boeing employees smoke in a designated smoking area on Monday, December 16, 2019, in Renton.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Top Boeing official resigns over sexist article published decades ago

Boeing says its communications chief is out after half a year on the job.

Niel Golightly resigned after a complaint surfaced about an article he wrote in 1987 about whether women should serve in combat.

Golightly argued against women going to war, stating that having women on the battlefield would "mortally disorient" their male comrades.

Boeing says it does not agree with the views expressed in the article.

An excerpt of the piece is still visible on the U.S. Naval Institute’s website.

“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.” Niel Golightly, 1987

Golightly said he wrote the piece when he was a 29-year-old navy pilot. He called it "misguided."

"My argument was embarrassingly wrong and offensive," he said in a statement released by Boeing.

"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," the statement continues.

Golightly denies that the article is a reflection of his character, but said that he decided to step down "in the interest of the company."

Boeing’s leadership has emphasized a zero tolerance for racism, sexism, or harassing behavior in recent weeks.

READ: Boeing says racism won't be tolerated. But will it be driven off the shop floor?