In Women in the Military, Janette Mance explores the debates and problems faced by the increasing number of women involved in the military. After examining issues such as pregnancy, sexual harassment, and rape, Mance concludes that as a society we must continue to strive for gender equality.
Understanding the diversity in the U.S. Military is easiest if the numbers are looked at according to this nation’s population. American women account for fifty-one percent of the U.S. population and yet they only make up about sixteen percent of our uniformed officers throughout each branch of the military. The numbers are even fewer when looking at the number of women who have made a general officer rank. In the Army, only four percent of the generals are female, Navy admirals are seven percent, Air Force numbers are only nine percent, and the lowest number is the Marine Corps with three percent. (Sagalyn, 2011). The graph below shows the disparity in the numbers from each branch of the military and covers both active and reserve officers.
Beginning in the Civil War, although not formally part of the service, women became involved in the war (Office of Policy and Planning, 2007). Then, women’s tasks ranged from nursing and cooking and housing the troops. However, there were a few women who joined the battle lines with men. In the 1860s women were not allowed to be in battle, but some chose to disguise themselves as men to fight alongside them. In 1943 the Women’s Army Corps was established and women were given full military status which did not include benefits (Office of Policy and Planning, 2007). After World War II the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act was signed by President Harry Truman in 1948. This act permanently made women apart of the Regular and Reserve forces of the Army, Navy, Marines and the Air Force (Office of Policy and Planning, 2007).
The military has mostly been dominated by men; the women have also had history of military success. For example, during the second world war, the women were mostly serving as nurses (Manila Bulletin). Women have come far from being nurses during world war II to being able to hold any positions. Some women can be in almost any position. Now women are found on the fronts lines. Also, during World War II, women who were nurses at Pearl Harbor came into a combat situation in which they were to engage and kill the enemy (Manilla Bulletin). An increase of women in the military has impacted the military by having different job roles, expanding military positions, and increasing more sexual assaults.
When people think of women’s role during World War II, they may instantly imagine the famous poster of “Rosie the Riveter,” a female with a bandana around her head and flexing her muscles. This poster certainly symbolizes the roles of women during wartime; however, it represents the women working in the factories while the men were in combat. Consequently, many may unintentionally disregard the abundant number of females serving in the military. Although these females were not permitted to fight in combat, they served in women divisions such as the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES). Discussing her service during World War II with interviewer Arthur L. Kelly on Wednesday, July 17, 1985, in Frankfort, Kentucky, Clara Margaret Fort recounted her nearly 25 year career serving with the WAVES. Despite Fort’s inability to remember numerous dates and names throughout the interview, possibly due to her old age, she did discuss the various training she underwent as an enlisted cadre, as well as the different positions she held. Additionally, she discussed the perceptions male militants had of their counterparts, some of which were the causation of gender discrimination. Thus, the interview is an adequate representation of both the roles and discrimination females experienced while serving during the Second World War.
"Update: Women in the Military." Issues and Controversies. Facts On File News Services, 29 May 2007. Web.
Women have been serving in the military since the late 1700s. To be specific, women have been in the military since 1775 during the American Revolution even though they weren’t supposed to. Why werent women allowed to serve in the military? Because they were not equal and did not have enough rights like the men did. But women still managed to serve as nurses, cooks, and other jobs. Women were enrolled as nurses because the Union needed people to aid hurt soldiers (Righthand). The main reason to why women became nurses and cooks were that one of their male family members were sent to war so the women needed a way to support themselves (B...
Myre, Greg. "Women In Combat: 5 Key Questions." NPR. N.p., 24 Jan. 2014. Web. 15 Apr. 2014. .
Women's Roles in the Military
Before World War I, women assisted the military during wartime mainly as nurses and helpers. Some women, however, did become involved in battles. Molly Pitcher, a Revolutionary War water carrier, singlehandedly kept a cannon in action after a artillery crew had been disabled. During the
Revolutionary and the Civil War, a few women disguised themselves as men and took part in hand-to-hand combat. The first enlisted women served in World War I as telephone and radio operators, translators, and clerks.
Warfare in the twentieth century offered Women a new opportunity: to emerge from what was believed to be “Women’s work” in the home and become employed or even independent. As America became involved in the two great world wars, the Korean War, and the Vietnamese War, the only two wars at the time resulting in U.S. tie and defeat respectively, military drafts dedicatedly worked to incorporate women in order to gain a substantial army. Women enlistment in the army prior to World War I had been considered an extremely “masculine” task, with participants deserving significant respect: the necessity of massive wars had broken tradition in a manner considered the largest change in 3000 years , allowing...