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A Brief History of Women in the Military. American Revolution & Civil War. No official role in the military Worked as cooks, seamstresses, caregivers, nurses, and launderers Some disguised themselves as men and fought in battle Some acted as spies, saboteurs, and couriers.

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A Brief History of Women in the Military


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    1. A Brief History of Women in the Military

    2. American Revolution & Civil War • No official role in the military • Worked as cooks, seamstresses, caregivers, nurses, and launderers • Some disguised themselves as men and fought in battle • Some acted as spies, saboteurs, and couriers

    3. Spanish American War & World War I • Nursing Corps formed as an auxiliary to the Army (1901) and Navy (1908). • 34,000 women served as nurses in all armed forces in WWI. • No military rank. No military benefits.

    4. World War II • Women given full military status • Navy WAVES (1942) • Army WAC (1943) • Airforce WASPS • Marine Corps Women’s Reserve • Coast Guard Women’s Reserve

    5. World War II • Nurses, secretaries, telephone operators • 350,000 women served in the military representing 2% of the total force • Women became permanent members of the Regular and Reserve forces (1948)

    6. Korea & Vietnam • Roles increased due to changes in society and the needs of the military • Nurses, clerical/administrative, communications, personnel, finance, data processing, intelligence • Initially 1% of the military force

    7. 1970’s • First women generals and admirals • All Volunteer Force (end of the draft) • Title 9 – girls active in school sports • Service academies opened to women (1976) • Women integrated fully into military branches of services • Women entered Airborne Training

    8. 1980’s • Combat Exclusion Policy • Operation Urgent Fury - Grenada • Operation Just Cause - Panama

    9. Desert Storm • Transportation, helicopter pilots, missiles, supply, medics, and more • 40,000 women • Greater acceptance of women in expanded roles

    10. Iraq & Afghanistan • Serving on Navy ships, and as combat pilots, truck drivers, Marine search teams • 180,000 women in the war zone • Repeated deployments

    11. Key Points • Women’s role in the military is evolving and expanding • Women represent 15% of active force, 23% of reserves • Women as a percentage of the veteran population is growing (2.5% in 1970 to 8% in 2010) • Average female veteran is 46 compared to the average male veteran at 60. • “Combat exclusion” no longer an option