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Women's Equality Day and Women's History

Table of Contents

Women in the Military History


Following are some interesting books, held by the Pentagon Library, which discuss the role of women in the military throughout the world and throughout history. Pentagon Library call numbers are in bold at the end of the record.

Pennington, Reina ed. Amazons to Fighter Pilots: A Biographical Dictionary of Military Women. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2003. U52.A44

Cooper, Helen M. ed. Arms and the Woman: War, Gender, and Literary Representation. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1989. PN98.W64 A76

DePauw, Linda Grant. Battle Cries and Lullabies. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998. D25.5D44

Ferber, Martin M. Combat Exclusion Laws for Women in the Military. Washington, D.C.: General Accounting Office, 1987. UB418.W65 F37

Roy, Thomas M. The Combat Exclusion Policy: Myth or Reality for Women in Today’s Army? Carlisle Barracks, PA: U. S. Army War College, 1991. UB416.R69

Ruddick, Sara Drafting women, pieces of a puzzle. College Park, MD: Center for Philosophy and Public Policy, University of Maryland, 1982. UB 323.R82

Miller, Laura. Feminism and the Exclusion of Army Women from Combat. Cambridge, MA: John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies, Harvard University, 1995. UB418.W65 M552

Piszliewicz, Dennis. From Nazi Test Pilot to Hitler’s Bunker: The Fantastic Flights of Hanna Reitsch. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1997. TL540.R38 P57

DeVries, Kelly. Joan of Arc: A Military Leader. Stroud: Sutton, 1999. DC103.D48

Keller, W. C. Military Use of Women in Combat: An Historical Perspective. Monterey, CA: Naval Postgraduate School, 1979. UB418.W65 K4

Myles, Bruce. Night Witches, the Untold Story of Soviet Women in Combat. Novato, CA: Presidio, 1981. D792.S65 M94

Thomas, Patricia J. Role of Women in the Military: Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. San Diego, CA: Navy Personnel Research and Development Center, 1978. UA565.T56

Mitchell, Brian. Women in the Military: Flirting with Disaster. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Pub., 1998. UB418.W65 M5723

Jones, David E. Women Warriors: A History. Washington, D.C.: Brassey’s, 1997. U21.75.J66

Developments Division, Women’s Army Corps School. Women’s Military Services Other Than Those of the United States of America. Ft. McClellan, AL: United States Army Women’s Army Corps School, 1963. HQ1390.U58

Bey, Jaqueline S (compiler) Women in the Military: A Selected Bibliography. Carlisle Barracks, PA: U. S. Army War College Library, 2000. UB418.W65 W62


A continuing discussion in the literature of the day centers around the role of women in combat. The following articles present varied views as to what that role is. They are listed in reverse chronological order.

Andrea Stone. "Armed forces' latest battleground is within :[FINAL Edition]. " USA Today (pre-1997 Fulltext) [McLean, Va.] 17 Nov. 1992,09A. National Newspapers (9). ProQuest. butler. 28 Feb. 2007.
Indeed, in an institution of ``officers and gentleman,'' the issues of homosexuals and women in combat ``are very closely related. Both insist that we ignore human sexuality entirely,'' says Brian Mitchell, author of Weak Link, which argues against female soldiers. He says changing current policy will ``wreak havoc on the American military.''

Women who are aggressive and physical - prized attributes among warriors - are suspected of being lesbians. So are some women who file sexual harassment charges. [Kathy Gilberd] says ending the gay ban would not only help homosexuals but also straight men and women.

``The code of ethics, the morals, everything we're built upon would be threatened,'' by lifting the gay ban, says Marine Maj. Mike Scott, a Quantico, Va., pilot who flies the president's helicopter. ``This should be a decision Gov. [Bill Clinton] thinks long and hard about.''

Andrea Stone. "Battling bias 'Together' only way to win, commander tells her men :Final Edition. " USA Today [McLean, Va.] 11 Mar. 1997,A, 1:2. National Newspapers (9). ProQuest. butler. 28 Feb. 2007.
FORT STEWART, Ga. -- As first days go, it was a good one. Lt. Col. Susan Lawrence's 123rd Signal Battalion took just 41/2 hours to put up radio and phone lines for a 10-day infantry field exercise last month. At a late-night briefing, she led 30 officers and noncommissioned officers in a rousing rendition of the 3rd Infantry Division's Dogface Soldier: ``I eat raw meat for breakfast . . . ''

Lawrence has come a long way since she left Ida Grove, Iowa, in 1972 to enlist as a private in what was then the Women's Army Corps. Back then, she had to wear skirts, no slacks, and wasn't allowed to fire weapons. Today, Lawrence commands 630 soldiers, one in five of them women. The signal battalion's mission seems to contradict guidelines devised to keep women out of combat: reach the battlefield first, ahead of the infantry and armor, which ban women.

But female soldiers still battle sexual harassment -- unwanted sexual attention or worse -- as well as sex discrimination. Months before the sexual misconduct scandals at Maryland's Aberdeen Proving Ground, this base was rocked by charges of sexual harassment against the officer Lawrence replaced. The incident prompted an investigation that uncovered widespread misconduct, mostly of the ``Hey, baby'' verbal variety, at Stewart and nearby Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah.

Bruce Anderson. "'Female soldier' ought to be an oxymoron. " The Spectator 8 May 2004: 12-13. Research Library. ProQuest. butler. 28 Feb. 2007.
The third advantage which the British army possesses is a hand-me-down officer class. These days, many officers do not come from smart, hereditary military families, but they benefit from the ethos created by those who did. The soldiers themselves often seem more at ease with officers who talk differently.

Bryan Bender, Globe Staff. "US women get closer to combat ; some say move imperils units, violates law :[Third Edition]. " Boston Globe [Boston, Mass.] 26 Jan. 2005,A.1. National Newspapers (9). ProQuest. butler. 28 Feb. 2007.
WASHINGTON The Army for the first time is placing women in support units at the front lines of combat because of a shortage of skilled male soldiers available for duty in Iraq and is considering a repeal of the decade-old rule that prohibits women from being deployed alongside combat forces, according to Pentagon officials and military documents.

The change made by the Third Infantry Division was prompted by a shortage of trained troops caused by the unexpected length of the Iraq war and has set off a quiet, but highly charged debate within the Army over the role of women in the military. As a practical matter, the guerrilla tactics used against US troops during the occupation have also blurred the traditional lines between combat and support functions and is expected to prompt a wholesale review of the definition of ground "combat" within the Bush administration.

The soldier said that when the division participated in the initial Iraq invasion, six female medics attached to his all-male battalion were romantically involved with male soldiers and one female medic became pregnant. "It became an enormous distraction for the company commanders who had to constantly separate the pairs and deal with the pregnancy," the eight-year veteran told [Duncan Hunter]. The letter did not identify the soldier's battalion.

David Axe. "Femail Soldiers in Iraq. " Cosmopolitan 1 Jul 2006: 130-133. Research Library. ProQuest. butler. 28 Feb. 2007.
Young women participating in the war in Iraq (more than 100,000 of them, it's estimated, since the conflict began in 2003) are experiencing combat in a way women never have before-driving trucks, flying jets, searching suspects, patrolling Baghdad...and getting caught in the line of fire, in mortar attacks, and increasingly, in roadside bombings. Flying over western Iraq in a Hornet fighter jet, Marine Captain Christine VaIIeIy has seen the best and worst of the rugged country: gorgeous sunsets that set the sky ablaze in crimson and orange and, on the ground below, insurgents planting bombs that kill U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians. Outside, the barren province of Al Anbar was littered with garbage and wrecked Iraqi weapons, but in the office where Koza oversaw maintenance for a U.S. Marine Corps fighter squadron, everything was clean and in order.

Elaine Donnelly. "CON: Women In Combat. " The Officer 1 Mar. 2005: 39-42. Military Module. ProQuest. butler. 28 Feb. 2007.
A reprint of the article from the Center for Military Readiness Web site at is presented. Among other things, in close combat environments, physical capabilities are as important as ever; and an enormous body of well-documented evidence produced by physiologists in the US and Britain revealed that women do not have an "equal opportunity" to survive, or to help fellow soldiers survive.

Elaine Donnelly. "Senators Must Question Haynes on Women in Combat. " Human Events 18 Sep. 2006: 7. Research Library. ProQuest. butler. 28 Feb. 2007.
In 1994, then-secretary of Defense Les Aspin issued regulations exempting female soldiers from direct ground combat units, and from some support units that physically embed or "collocate" with land combat troops 100% of the time.

Erin Solaro. "GI Janes caught in culture wars crossfire :[All Edition]. " The Christian Science Monitor [Boston, Mass.] 1 Jun 2005,09. National Newspapers (5). ProQuest. butler. 28 Feb. 2007.
Why did he do it? In mid-May, Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, sponsored an amendment to a defense appropriation bill to close the Army's Forward Support Companies to female soldiers. Had the House not abandoned the issue last week, the Army could have been forced to withdraw or reassign thousands of young women currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This is unfair to Hunter, an astute and staunchly pro-military politician who is neither a child nor a terrorist. But the Army is increasingly and irrevocably dependent on women, who are now routinely serving - and serving well - in combat environments and situations. To remove them would be to cripple an Army facing a serious recruiting and retention crisis. So if Hunter did something so utterly at variance with military reality and necessity, there must be other motivations at work.

Under President Bush, the right has counterattacked in a complex "Take Back America" campaign involving an array of "hot-button" issues, from abortion and gay marriage to judgeships and, now, women in combat. Indeed, last February, in an Oval Office press conference, Mr. Bush stated his opposition to women in ground combat, giving his supporters carte blanche to work the issue. In May, after several months of preparatory publicity in the standard conservative publications, Hunter did just that.

Gary Rosen. "Triangulating the Constitution. " Commentary 1 Jul 1999: 59-65. Research Library. ProQuest. butler. 28 Feb. 2007.
On the evidence of several new books by leading law professors, some liberals are having second thoughts about the reasoning that has for so long carried forward the liberal constitutional project, according to Rosen.

Henry Chu. "The World; Three Israeli Soldiers Killed in Gaza Strip; The deaths of two female recruits revive debate over women's role in the army. Others question the cost of protecting Jewish settlements :[Home Edition]. " Los Angeles Times [Los Angeles, Calif.] 25 Oct. 2003,A.3. Los Angeles Times. ProQuest. butler. 28 Feb. 2007. Osman and 19-year-old Sarit Shneior, who also died in the predawn attack, became two of only a handful of female Israeli soldiers to be killed in the bloody 3-year-old Palestinian uprising. A third recruit, Alon Avrahami, 20, was gunned down, and two other soldiers were injured, before Israeli troops fatally shot the attacker. A second Palestinian gunman escaped.

The deaths early Friday added to the spiraling number of casualties in Gaza in the last two weeks. Hours later, another name was added to the list: Mohammed Al-Hamaydeh, an 11-year-old Palestinian boy struck by a bullet as he passed by an Israeli army outpost on his way to Friday prayers. Palestinians say the shot was fired by the Israelis; the Israeli army denies that.

Osman and Shneior were the first female Israeli army recruits to be fatally shot since December, when 19-year-old Keren Yaacoby was shot in the volatile West Bank city of Hebron. Yaacoby was the first female soldier killed in the line of duty since women were integrated into combat units six years ago amid some controversy, the Israeli military said.

J Michael Brower. "A case for women warfighters. " Military Review 1 Nov. 2002: 61-66. Military Module. ProQuest. butler. 28 Feb. 2007.
Female soldiers are almost taken for granted in today's Army. Few, if any, would argue that women have no place in the Army, and their presence rarely raises an eyebrow. Yet, there remain a few bastions of male hegemony, one of which is the infantry. Brower argues strenuously that the time is ripe for meaningful roles for women in modern warfighting.

Maura J. Casey. "Then and Now, Female Soldiers Just Do Their Jobs :[Editorial]. " New York Times [New York, N.Y.] 11 Nov. 2006, Late Edition (East Coast): A.14. National Newspapers (5). ProQuest. butler. 28 Feb. 2007.
Yet, despite what women in uniform have accomplished, there are critics who want to curtail their military roles. Despite Pentagon policy that keeps women from entering combat units like infantry, armor or field artillery, some conservatives profess horror that women are members of any combat support units in harm's way.

Reality has overrun critics' arguments. Between Iraq and Afghanistan, 68 women have been killed in action, and 436 have been wounded, according to the Pentagon's Web site. In the midst of what is truly a 360-degree front, some still insist that women should not be in the line of fire before the country has an ''open debate'' on the impact of women on morale, readiness and military cohesion in time of war.

Given the ease of modern communication, from cellphones to e-mail, if women were not measuring up in Iraq, that would have become very clear by now. Last year, the Pentagon quietly approved creation of the Combat Action Badge, awarded to Army combat support soldiers who come under fire and engage the enemy. Sgt. April Pashley, of Egg Harbor Township, N.J., was among the first five recipients.

McNeil, Donald G Jr. "Should Women Be Sent into Combat. " New York Times [New York, N.Y.] 21 Jul 1991, Late Edition (East Coast): 43. National Newspapers (5). ProQuest. butler. 28 Feb. 2007.
The House passed a bill in Jun 1991 taking the first step toward letting female soldiers into combat--lifting the ban on women flying warplanes. Various aspects of the debate on women in combat are discussed.

Paolo Valpolini, Heinz Sculte J A C Lewis JDW Correspondents. "Women Warriors. " Jane's Defence Weekly 23 Jun 1999: 1. Military Module. ProQuest. butler. 28 Feb. 2007.
Lt Caroline Aigle became the first woman to qualify as a fighter pilot in the French Air Force on 28 May, after completing Alpha jet training at Tours. She will now begin conversion training on the Mirage 2000 fighter. She will join 28 other women in France's armed forces who have qualified to fly Transall C-160 and Airbus transport aircraft, the Airborne Warning and Control System and transport helicopters.

The transition of several NATO countries, such as Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, to all-volunteer forces has given added impetus to the employment of women within their forces. They will benefit from the experience of both NATO and non-NATO countries, including Canada, the UK, the USA, Australia and New Zealand, which have long relied on women for vital contributions to their volunteer forces.

France's armed forces include almost 19,000 women: 8,861 in the army, 6,777 in the air force and 3,310 in the navy. Overall, women represent 4.3% of officers and 8.5% of non-commissioned officers. In the navy, all jobs are open to women except in commando units, aboard submarines and service as naval fighter pilots. The only restriction in the army is actual combat duty and while the only unit from which they are formally excluded is the Foreign Legion, in practice, they cannot enlist in special forces or other commando units. Until early this year, the army's women were banned from handling weapons systems, shells and land mines.

Schmitt, Eric. "Ban on Women in Combat Divides Four Service Chiefs. " New York Times [New York, N.Y.] 19 Jun 1991, Late Edition (East Coast): A16. National Newspapers (5). ProQuest. butler. 28 Feb. 2007.
In what is rapidly emerging as one of the Pentagon's most anguished debates in years, the military's four service chiefs on Jun 18, 1991 offered opposing views on expanding combat roles for women. General Carl E. Vuono of the Army and General Alfred M. Gray Jr of the Marines said they opposed repealing a ban on female soldiers serving in combat, while Admiral Frank B. Kelso II of the Navy and General Merrill A. McPeak of the Air Force supported the right of women to fight.

Vicki Nielsen. "Women in uniform. " NATO Review 1 Jul 2001: 30-33. Research Library. ProQuest. butler. 28 Feb. 2007.
In the course of the past four decades, the status, conditions and numbers of women in NATO armed forces have changed almost beyond recognition. Nielsen examines how far women have been integrated in NATO forces.

Wright, Cynthia. "G.I. Jill. " The New Republic 21 Oct. 1991: 16. ABI/INFORM Global. ProQuest. butler. 28 Feb. 2007.
The barriers that women face in the military are discussed. The combat exclusion rule has been rewritten; however, the full acceptance of female soldiers is stifled by antiquated views of military men and women in general. Examples of sexist behavior in the military are detailed.

"Commentary & reply. " Parameters 31.3 (2001): 148. Military Module. ProQuest. butler. 28 Feb. 2007.

Mark Rotella, Sarah F Gold, Lynn Andriani, Michael Scharf. "Men, Women and War: Do Women Belong in the Front Line? " Rev. of: title_of_work_reviewed_in_italics, clarifying_information. Publishers Weekly 15 Apr. 2002: 51-52. ABI/INFORM Global. ProQuest. butler. 28 Feb. 2007.
Men, Women and War: Do Women Belong in the Front Line? Martin Van Creveld. Sterling, $29.95 (288p) ISBN 0-304-35959-9

Stuttaford, Genevieve, Simson, Maria, Zaleski, Jeff. "War and American Women: Heroism, Deeds, and Controversy. " Rev. of: title_of_work_reviewed_in_italics, clarifying_information. Publishers Weekly 10 Feb. 1997: 77. ABI/INFORM Global. ProQuest. butler. 28 Feb. 2007.
"War and American Women: Heroism, Deeds, and Controversy" by William B. Breuer is reviewed.