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Women's jobs, roles

by Carol Stokes

Mattie Treadwell, in the official history, The Women's Army Corps, a volume of The U.S. Army in World War II series, relates that women served in 406 military occupational specialties. However, there were 222 excepted MOSs — i.e., those considered unsuited for females. The excluded MOSs included all supervisory jobs, as well as all jobs located in the military district of Washington, D.C.

In the latter instance, LTG Brehon Somervell, commander of Army Service Forces, had decreed women would not be stationed in the nation's capital.

About 350,000 women served in World War II, primarily as health care, administrative and communications workers. They worked under temporary arrangements and inconsistent policies.

Columnist Gary Wills recently reflected on the situation. "Women in World War II," he said, "were encouraged to work in factories, to become `Rosie the riveter,' but after the war they were told again that their place — their only place — was in the home."

In the case of women in uniform, it was several years after the war — in 1948 — that the Armed Forces Integration Act gave women a permanent place in the military services. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, women's roles expanded in the Army and other military services.

For example, in the latter decade, women were admitted to ROTC and the service academies, and their spouses became dependents in the same sense as the wives of their male counterparts.

Today's all-volunteer Army, and the nation's progress in ensuring equal opportunity for all its citizens, have literally changed the composition of the Army, the Signal Corps — indeed, the entire military establishment.

Last modified on:
April 04, 2012

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