Much has been said about the additions of female lead characters in Star Wars movies. But while present in the other materials like comic books, novels, and animation, female characters on the villain side have been few and far between on film. Captain Phasma broke that ground in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, along with another female voice or two in the First Order's ranks. Now, we can say canonically that there were female stormtroopers in the Empire's military as well.
In a passage in the official novelization of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Alexander Freed, a stormtrooper is identified specifically as a female. SPOILER ALERT When K-2SO is trying to hold off a stormtrooper incursion while Jyn and Cassian are locating the correct data tape with the Death Star plans on it, his programming automatically scans the individual stormtroopers coming after him.
“First, a stormtrooper (K-2SO identified her as TK-4012 but resisted the urge to download her Citadel personnel file) fired a blaster bolt that impacted just over four centimeters off K-2SO’s programming port access door," the passage reads.
That statement makes Rogue One the first big-screen material with Galactic Empire female stormtroopers. Star Wars Rebels and the novels A New Dawn and Lost Stars have also touched on women in the rank and file of the Imperial military, of course, with Rebels specifically focusing on cadets and pilots.
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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is in theaters now. Directed by Gareth Edwards, it's the first of the new standalone features from Lucasfilm and Disney, which take place outside the core "Skywalker Saga" of films noted by an Episode number. Rogue One tells the story of the small band of rebels that were tasked with stealing the plans to the first Death Star. The story spins directly off the opening crawl from the original Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. In that crawl, it read: "Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet."