Born in Israel, Ruth Muskal studied education at both the Kibbutz Seminar and in university. She joined the IDF in 1955 and filled various positions until her promotion to OC Women’s Corps (See “CHEN”: Women’s Corps in the Israel Defense Forces).
Coinciding with the Yom Kippur War and the concomitant extent of conscription and combat, Ruth Muskal’s term as commanding officer of the Women’s Corps (1973–1975) saw a distinct increase in women’s role in defending the country. She was deeply opposed to the concept then current, which perceived women’s role as primarily auxiliary and thus freeing servicemen for combat duties. She sought to effect a qualitative change in women’s service, one that would maximally exploit women’s potential. She thus stressed the obstacles that prevented such maximalization, ranging from gender-based postings and the exclusion of women from prestigious occupations like pilot-training courses, to the absence of women from managerial positions in the IDF. So limited a range of options also negatively affected their integration into civilian life after their discharge from the military. Muskal took great care to preserve women’s rights, as well as the independence and status of the Women’s Corps. She also did a great deal to increase the conscription and integration into the IDF of young women of low socio-economic status.