The U.S. Marine Corps is working now to tear down the final gender divide and integrate women into all military units, including combat roles.
It's a step that the new generation of women Marines think is important in the fight for equality.
"The (Parris Island) training prepares you for everything," said Chamisi Pastor, a 33-year-old Dayton, Ohio, resident who went through Parris Island in 2003. "And in terms of capability, there are plenty of female Marines who are strong enough and tough enough to be out there fighting."
But Pastor expressed concerns that integrated combat units might not be as effective as all-male units.
And it's not because of the women.
"I think you might run into the problem of the guys focusing too much attention on keeping the women protected," said Pastor, who spent seven months in 2009 deployed in Afghanistan, coordinating air support.
"(The male Marines) are raised to want to protect women, plus it's human nature. That's not a bad thing at all, but it might make it difficult to have women out there fighting with the men," she said.
Pastor said her time at Parris Island helped her form "really strong bonds" with other female Marines.
"Obviously there are more male recruits, so the women tend to get very close," she said.
Pastor left the Marines in July. Recently, she ran into a drill sergeant from her Parris Island days.
Despite a long and successful career, she said she "went automatically into recruit mode."
"It was crazy. I was kind of intimidated; this was one of the women who helped mold me into a Marine," she said.
But after a few minutes chatting, Pastor realized the former drill instructor no longer saw her as a recruit, but as a peer, an equal, a fellow female Marine.
Pastor plans to apply her military skills and training to a new mission: getting her MBA. Once she finishes school, she hopes to become a human resources manager.