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Women in the Army - History

Women in the Army - History


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Women began to work outside of the house as well as the inside because of the need for extra money. Often they worked in factories, but the war came and supplied odd jobs, like fixing an airplane.

TIMELINE: A History Of Women In The US Military

In January 2017, the first female Marines graduated from infantry school. In 2016, the first female soldiers became infantry officers. Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson also took over as leader of U.S. Northern Command in 2016, becoming the first female service member to lead a unified combatant command and thus the highest ranking woman in U.S. military history. We also saw female enlisted sailors deploy on submarines for the first time ever.

In every case, these were historic firsts for the armed services, and a reminder that the military still has a long way to go before it is a truly integrated institution. But, since the United States first declared itself an independent nation, American women have found ways to serve their country despite resistance from men, sometimes going as far as impersonating male soldiers to join the fight at the frontlines.

In honor of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, Task & Purpose has compiled a list of historic milestones that changed the course of our nation — milestones set by servicewomen who refused to accept the status quo and paved the way for the next generation. This is by no means a complete timeline this is simply a snippet of those accomplishments.


1. Keeping your hair in regs is harder than it looks

(U.S. Coast Guard Training Video)

While the buzzcuts and high-and-tights adorn the heads of many men in the military, attempting to keep long, thick hair in a perfect sockbun is hardly the equivalent. Gel, hairspray, bobby pins, socks, hair ties, and prayers go into each bun, which often has to be fixed throughout the day.


Not Many Women Get to Do What I Do

Chief Petty Officer Stella Sierra-Chierici, Navy, 1999-Present

Image

I am a jet engine mechanic on the F/A-18F Super Hornet. Not many women or men will ever get the opportunity to do what I do. It’s been tough at times throughout my career to have men tell me they will not work for me because I’m a woman. I say to them: “That’s O.K. You don’t have to follow me, but I will bring you along.”


Military Resources: Women in the Military

"Band of Angels: Sister Nurses in the Spanish-American War" This article from the Fall 2002 issue of Prologue discusses Catholic nuns that served as nurses in the Spanish American War.
"The Story of the Female Yeomen during the First World War" Nathaniel Patch discusses female recruits in the U.S. Navy during World War I in this Prologue article.
"Wearing Lipstick to War: An American Woman in World War II England and France" This article from Prologue tells the story of Elizabeth A. Richardson, who supported the troops during World War II in England and France.
"Will the Real Molly Pitcher Please Stand Up?" Emily J. Teipe's Prologue article discusses separating the myth of the heroine of the Revolutionary War from the reality.
"Women Soldiers of the Civil War" Part One of a Prologue article by DeAnne Blanton.
Women Who Served A NARA online exhibit commemorating the women who served in the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS/WASP).


Meet the tough-as-nails women who broke glass ceilings in the US military

The role of women in the U.S. military has come a long way — and I mean a really long way.

The woman believed to be the first to join the Army, for instance, did so in secret. Apparently Deborah Sampson pulled some real Mulan shit and pretended to be a man, even treating herself after she was shot because she was worried she’d be found out if she got medical attention. The first Black woman to enlist in the Army — Cathay Williams — did the same thing, and enlisted under the name “William Cathay.”

And decades later, when the first women were promoted to general, the then-Army Chief of Staff kissed them during the ceremony and deemed it “a new protocol for congratulating lady generals.”

Fast forward to just over one month ago, when a woman took command of the U.S. Army Reserve for the first time in history or when, weeks before that, the Navy announced the first Black female fighter pilot to earn her wings.

That’s not to say there isn’t still room for improvement. The Army and Navy, for example, have never had a female service secretary, and the Marine Corps is still working on integrating boot camp.

But last week marked the 47th annual Women’s Equality Day, which according to the National Women’s History Alliance was started to commemorate women gaining the right to vote with the 19th Amendment.

To mark the occasion, here are just a few of the trailblazing women who were “firsts” in the U.S. military:

Is there a trailblazing woman we may have missed? Shoot us a note at [email protected]

Haley Britzkyis the Army reporter for Task & Purpose, covering the daily happenings in the Army and how they impact soldiers and their families, as well as broader national security issues. Originally from Texas, Haley previously worked at Axios before joining Task & Purpose in January 2019. Contact the author here.


Origins of Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month has a set of important milestones starting on March 8, 1857, when women in New York City staged a labor protest over their working conditions. A Women’s Day Celebration happened in New York City in 1909, followed up by a more global effort known as International Women’s Day (held for the first time on March 8, 1911) with the United Nations taking up the cause as a sponsor since 1975.

That global observation may not have anything directly to do with the United States’ version of Women’s History Month, but it shows just how early trends were moving in this direction to pay respect to the contributions of women throughout history.

History.com reports Women’s History Month itself grew out of humble origins in California. It started off as a week-long event organized by a Sonoma, California school district in the late 1970s. The event included presentations featuring hundreds of students, an essay contest, and a parade.

It wouldn’t be long until this caught on elsewhere, leading President Jimmy Carter to declare the week of March 8 th as Women’s History Week, in 1980. Six more years would pass until Congress expanded the observation to include the entire month of March this was thanks at least in part to the lobbying efforts of the National Women’s History Project.

Women’s History Month Evolves

In 1981, Congress passed Public Law 97-28, authorizing the President of the United States to proclaim the week of March 7, 1982, as “Women’s History Week.” Congress would be making joint resolutions for Women’s History Week until the National Women’s History Project petitioned Congress in 1987 the result was Public Law 100-9 which designated March 1987 officially as “Women’s History Month.”

From that time until 1994, Congress passed a series of annual Women’s History Month resolutions from 1995 Women’s History Month has been and continues to be so designated via Presidential Proclamation.

U.S. Census Statistics For Women’s History Month

Even the United States Census Bureau has facts and figures to help military and civilian communities alike observe Women’s History Month properly. Those numbers include more than one and a half million women counted in 2016 as military veterans (compared to more than 126 million women who are not veterans).

According to the U.S. Census, one out of every 12 women is a veteran. In 2016 there were 164 million women in the United States.

Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News


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The late 1960s brought significant social changes to the United States, many of them led by women. The Women&rsquos Rights movement fought for equality in the workplace, carved out a place for women in the political arena, and opened further opportunities in higher education.

The military also made changes to the treatment of women, specifically by allowing them into the service academies. This change occurred more than two years after Norwich University, the nation&rsquos oldest private military college, granted women access to the Corps of Cadets. Women enrolling in the Corps of Cadets and service academies were monumental for their role in the military, as for the first time, they could achieve officer status, placing them in positions of leadership and authority within all branches of the military.


Women in the Army - History

While we bring in April, warm spring weather and the change of season, let us continue to celebrate the amazing accomplishments of women in American and military history. Did you know women have always played a significant role in the history of American wars and conflicts? Take for example the story of Deborah Simpson.

Deborah Sampson is one of the most famous female Veterans of the Revolutionary War. In 1782, Sampson joined the Continental Army’s 4 th Massachusetts Regiment under the name of “Robert Shurtleff” and fought in the Revolutionary War.

In 1782, after receiving treatment for a head wound, she left the hospital with two musket balls in her leg for fear of her gender being discovered. Sampson removed one of the musket balls herself, but the second remained in her leg for the rest of her life. Her military career came to an end with an honorable discharge in 1783 after contracting a fever which led to discovery of her true identify.

In March 1805, Congress approved a soldier’s pension for Sampson at a rate of $4 a month. After her death in 1827, Congress recognized Deborah Simpson’s claims as a soldier by granting her husband a widow’s pension.

During the Civil War, more than 400 women disguised themselves as men and fought in the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War, and thousands of women joined the volunteer brigades and signed up to work as nurses.

Women soldiers fought in some of the biggest and most famous Civil War battles. It was often when these women soldiers were wounded or killed that their real identities were discovered.

In addition to serving as soldiers, women also worked as spies, war relief workers, and nurses during the Civil War.

Many women wanted to work on the front lines alongside the men. In 1861, the federal government agreed to create “a preventive hygienic and sanitary service for the benefit of the army” called the United States Sanitary Commission. This was a private relief agency created to support sick and wounded soldiers of the United States (Union) Army during the Civil War. Its objective was to combat preventable diseases and infections by improving conditions in army camps and hospitals. By war’s end, the Sanitary Commission had provided almost $15 million in supplies–the vast majority of which had been collected by women–to the Union Army.

The WAPS, Women Airforce Service Pilots and WAVES, Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service served during WWII to support troops fighting over seas. Today, women continue to play even larger roles in their military duties. Fighting on the frontlines, women service members demonstrate bravery, fearlessness and valor as they serve our country.

Experience these stories in your classroom at home. View our Women in the Military PowerPoint.



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