Prior to 1988 the Order of the Arrow had been for boys and men only. Starting in 1988 female leaders could become members of the OA just the same as male leaders. The BSA had approved women to serve as Scoutmasters to insure some Scout troops could attend summer camp. Once women were Scoutmasters, it was necessary to have women in the Order to support the Scouting and the OA program. As with male Scoutmasters, women must be 21 years of age.
Women had been associated with the OA for years. The Red Arrow Award was often given to women. However, women had been actively helping OA lodges and Arrowmen for years. A number of lodges even secretly had women members, sometimes called honorary members. There are even accounts of women keeping Vigils as early as the 1960s. Starting in 1988 women's membership was official. About three years later the first women Vigil Honor members were officially inducted. In 2009 Kay Trick became the first woman DSA recipient and National OA Committee member.