MERCHANT MARINE: Sex and the Single Sailor

Nancy Donnelly, 20, of Oxon Hill, Md., had a rather unusual ambition for a woman: she wanted to be an officer aboard a ship. So she enrolled last year in the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y., which began accepting women in 1974 (current enrollment: 975 men and 25 women). But her career ran aground on an uncharted double standard.

Trouble began after a mixer one evening last March, when she and a male cadet, whom she loyally refused to identify—he apparently was her financé, Mark Lewis, 22, a senior from...

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