Women's Integration Act
June 12, 2018 marked seventy years since the passage of the Women's Armed Services Integration Act which enabled women to serve as regular members of every branch of the military. This Act enabled women to serve in all branches of the military as permanent, regular members. Before this Act was in effect, women could not serve in the regular forces during peacetime. This was an important change, but the role of women in the military was still highly regulated; there was a limit placed on the number of women in each of the services and promotions in the navy and Marines were highly restricted. Women were also excluded from serving in aircraft or on vessels that might engage in combat.
Much has changed since 1948. In 1978 the Women's Army Corp was officially disbanded. Between 1991 and 1993 Congress authorized women to fly in combat missions and on combat ships. In January 2013 the (somewhat irrelevant) restriction on women serving in combat zones was lifted. And in May 2017 eighteen women became the first to graduate from the Army's newly gender-integrated infantry basic training. Among these and other historic steps forward there were ongoing phases of adjustment and learning.
Please click on the links below to access stories of women who served post-1948. These oral histories explore the many different experiences women have had between the signing of the Integrations Act all the way up to our most recent and current conflicts. The more we listen to their stories, the more we can appreciate what these women, and their fellow female service members, have done.
Please be advised:
These interviews may contain potentially disturbing content related to combat as well as sensitive material relating to PTSD, trauma, sexual assault, and moral injury. We appreciate the bravery of the narrators in sharing their stories—please be respectful when engaging with these interviews.
Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom Era