Women in the Military: World War II

Subject: Warfare
Pages: 4
Words: 835
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: College


Ever since the American revolutions, women have played a significant role in as far as military conflicts are concerned. However, it was not until World War II started that the role of women in the military gained immense prominence. Their participation was prompted by the realization that the total war could not be won without their services. About 70 percent of these women held jobs that were previously held by men thereby releasing more men to go to war. They served as typists, clerks, and also as mail sorters in addition to maintaining bureaucratic mechanisms that were necessary for the war. Despite the fact that women were not allowed to participate in armed conflicts, their duties quite often brought them near to the war fronts. These duties included their participation in dangerous jobs in the Army and Navy medical corps as nurses or nurses’ aides. On the basis of the foregoing arguments, there is the need to explore the role that women played in World War 11 and the impact this had on various agencies of the military services.

The Roles of Women Groups during World War II

The Women nurses

As the armed forces drained the manpower, women were going to be engaged physically for the production of war materials, substituting labor in factories and on the farms as well as providing emergency and evacuation services in the threatened areas as the need arose (Litoff and Smith 2004, 3). These women got engaged actively in the war as nurses and nurses’ aides. They were out to make, pack, and distribute the medical supplies required in the war through the Red Cross. Some of them were engaged in laboratories alongside other men in research work. The victory of the men at war was very much dependent on the moral support provided by these nurses and other civilians too.

The Women Army Auxiliary Corps

To aid in supplementation of manpower in certain areas, women had to be recruited into the armed forces especially the non-medical components of the Army (Devilbiss 1990, 5). Established in May 1942, the group would later on have its name changed to WAC (Women’s Army Corps). This was in the year 1943. It had its first ever director in the name of Oveta Hobby. The group had about 150,000 women during the WW2 who were serving in different localities in the state, Europe, North Africa, and New Guinea. Due to the commitment of its members and bearing in mind that these women had little to complain about, this group was highly rated. In fact, their level of discipline was also far much superior in comparison with their male counterparts.

Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs)

These included a group of capable and well trained women who served the Air Force in various jobs in the 1940s. These women displayed undeniable abilities in flying all sorts of aircraft ranging from Piper Cubs to P_51 pursuits and even the B_29 bombers (Cole 1992, 1). This group was created in 1943 with its first class of pilots being known as 44-W-2. It comprised of a diverse lot of pilots in terms of flying hours and the type of license held. Their major role was to fly non-combat missions so as to release the manpower to go for the combat missions. These missions included flying new aircraft from the manufacturing plants to the military air bases. These women include the likes of Amelia Earhart, Jacqueline Cochran and Nancy Harkness Love among many more.

Female spies

The notable persons who worked as American women spies of World War 2 include the likes of Virginia Hall, Claire Philips, Aline Griffith, Elizabeth Pack, Josephine Baker, and Mary Bancroft among others. This group comprised of a team of intelligent and hardworking personnel who worked as spies, translators, map readers, code breakers, and as telephone operators among other dangerous missions (Payment 2004, 11).

African American Women in World War II

This group was not to be left out during the wartime activities. Women such as Major Charity Adams among a host others were involved in all aspects of the war as WACs, SPARs, WAVEs, Army nurses, defense-plant workers, telephone operators, gas station attendants and many more in an effort to get women into the war actively.


Despite their active participation in the war in various capacities such as pilots, Army Corps and nurses, many women who were in the military during the Second World War seem to have been forgotten. Their service in war has not been recognized in the post war period in terms of being rewarded compared to their male counterparts. This is evident in the discriminatory practices that have been noted in housing, jobs, transportation, and media representation against women after the war.

Through their participation in the war, these women have demonstrated that all women are capable of doing almost all jobs that were reserved for men before the war. They therefore helped to dispel the myth that military roles were a reserve for men.

Reference List

  1. Cole, Jean Hascall. 1992. Women pilots of World War II. University of Utah Press, Web.
  2. Devilbiss, Margaret Conrad. 1990. Women and military service: a history, analysis, and overview of the key issues. Alabama: Air University Press, Web.
  3. Litoff, Judy Barret and Smith, David. 2004. American women in a world at war: contemporary accounts from World War II. Wilmington: Scholarly Resources Inc.
  4. Payment, Simone. 2004. American Women spies of World War II. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc.