Category Archives: Gender

Gender Roles: Iraq and Afghanistan Wars


During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, many roles changed for women. Women were given countless tasks in this war that they had never had before. Men’s roles stayed basically the same in the war zone, but at home some changed.

Women are becoming more frequent in the military. 7% of all marines are women and they are able to obtain 93% of the jobs available. In2009, the first all-female team of marines conducted their first mission in southern Afghanistan. This mission led the women to come into contact with the women in Afghanistan. A female team was sent out on this mission because it is considered culturally unacceptable for the men to interact with the women. Along with women in the marines, they also make up 15% of the army. In the army, women are able to obtain 95% of the jobs available. Jobs that are not available include direct combat on the ground. Though just recently there was a memo rescinding this law.

The original policy preventing women from direct combat on the ground was established by Secretary of Defense, Lee Aspin, in 1993. Although he stated women were allowed to train and assign on most combat ships and aircraft, women are prohibited from direct combat. In 2013, Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta signed a memo rescinding that portion of the policy. Beginning in 2014, women are  allowed to participate in direct combat on the ground. With this being done, the percentage of jobs in the military available to women will increase by multiple points. In the army alone, 33,000 jobs are supposed to be opened up to women in 2014.

In comparison to World War ll, the strides made in women being immersed into the military are huge. During World War ll, women assisted in war efforts while on the home front. They stayed at home to take care of the house and kids, while sometimes having a job in a local factory. Women took over the roles of men at home when they were away. For the small group of women working with the military, their jobs mainly included nurses, secretaries and pilots. With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan roles have changed drastically. Now, women are able to perform almost all of the same duties as men. Although women are not quite treated as equals yet, great strides have been made.

Few roles remained constant throughout all of the wars. In all of the wars, men have been involved in all aspects of the military. For centuries, men have fought on the front lines putting their lives in constant danger. While the men are in the war, most women continue to stay at home and take care of the children. Women send care packages from home in support of their loved ones away.


Works Cited

Women Marines Association. “Women’s Marine History.” Women Marines Association. Global Graffiti Inc., 2002. Web. 15 Apr 2014.

Army Women’s Museum. “Interactive Timeline.” Women in the US Army. U.S. Army. Web. 15 Apr 2014.

Burton, Monty, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. “United States Department of Defense.” News Article: All-Female Marine Team Conducts First Mission in Southern Afghanistan. American Forces Press Service, 10 Mar 2009. Web. 28 Apr 2014.


Vietnam War: Gender


Vietnam Nurses

During the Vietnam War, many gender roles stayed the same from World War 2. Men were still off fighting on the frontlines and women were mainly doing background work. The men continued fighting and enduring the worst of battle by themselves. In Vietnam they would trek through the jungles and have the constant fear of the  Viet Cong attacking in the night. If there was an attack, women would help deal with the aftermath by giving necessary medical attention.

In the Vietnam war, most of the women involved were volunteers. In all there were approximately eleven thousand women who served during this war. 90% of these women were nurses, who were all volunteers. As the same in World War 2, women also held the jobs of air traffic controllers, intelligence officers, clerks and members of the WAC. Women were given more responsibility in this war where they were sent to train Vietnamese women in certain skills. In 1956, American nurses were sent to Vietnam to train women in medical care and in 1964 General William Westmoreland requested the presence of the WAC to train women for military needs. By 1970, there were 20 WAC officers and 130 enlisted women in Vietnam. This is something that had never happened up until this point.

The Vietnam war also contributed to many deaths of American women in Vietnam. This was never an issue because during most wars there were not women on the battlegrounds. The majority of women who died in this war happened during Operation Babylift. Operation Babylift was a plan set out by President Gerald Ford to retrieve children from Vietnam and adopt them out in the United States. There were thirty flights sending 2,700 children to the United States and 1,300 divided between Europe, Australia and Canada. Unfortunately, not all the planes used for transport were particularly safe. The first flight sent out crashed due to mechanical problems. This in turn took the lives of thirty-eight American  women and approximately one hundred children.

A total of sixty-seven American women died in  part to the war in Vietnam. Fifty-nine women were civilians and eight were military. Among these women were First Lieutenant Sharon Ann Lane and Colonel Annie Ruth Graham. Lane was part of the 312th Evacuation Hospital in Chu Lai when rockets hit the area. She died of shrapnel wounds. Posthumously, she was awarded the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm, the Bronze Star for Heroism, and the Purple Heart. Lane was the first woman recognized in the Vietnam War. Graham, like Lane, was a volunteer nurse in Vietnam. She died in 1968 due to a stroke. Although this is not directly contributed to Vietnam, I believe the war did take part in her death. Colonel Graham was the Chief Nurse at the 91st Evacuation Hospital up until her death. She was a veteran of World War 2 and Korea.

During the Vietnam War, women made small steps into becoming essential parts of the military. Although they still are not allowed to fight on the front lines with the men, women have made great strides in the past decades in becoming part of the wartime effort. Coming from the Indian War where it’s not acceptable for women to work outside of the home into the Vietnam War where women are overseas working as Nurses and small jobs for the military is a huge difference. Throughout the wars, women are gaining more rights and more responsibilities.

Works Cited Staff. “Women in the Vietnam War.” A&E Television Networks, 2011. Web. 29 Mar 2014.

“American Women Who Died in the Vietnam War.” American Women Who Died in the Vietnam War. Vietnam’s Veteran Memorial, 1997. Web. 29 Mar 2014.

USA Today.  Nurses in Vietnam. Digital Image. USA Today. Web. 2 Apr 2014.


Civil War: Gender Roles

civil war camp family loc

Up until the Civil War, gender roles were extremely distinct and not many overlapped. Men performed heavy, manual labor or jobs outside of the home, while women worked within the home. The women focused mainly on the children and housework, instead of maintaining a paying job. The men were the breadwinners for the family and without that source of income, many families would struggle.

When the war began, most men and boys ran off to enlist. This left the women and children at home to fend for themselves. Without the men home working, the women had to somehow find a way to make money. This is the point in history where we begin to see gender roles overlapping. Women start to appear in the work force, whether it’s in a factory or a local general store. These jobs held by women during the Civil War would normally belong to the men. Instead of staying at home and taking care of the family, women were out making money. Some women even disguised themselves as soldiers to fight in the war. (Collett, pp.1) This of course was illegal, but women still fought. Not only are women in the workforce, but they are also on the battlefield now. The more popular role of women involved in the war was nursing. Many women followed the soldiers into camps and assisted as nurses. Although this was often controversial because of the morals of the time, women still maintained the role.

During the Civil War, roles overlapped tremendously between men and women. Not only did they overlap, but roles taken on by the women would not have happened if the men had stayed home. The Civil War gave women the opportunity to go out into the workforce and perform jobs thought to be only capable of doing by men. When the end of the Civil War drew near, jobs held by women for years were given back to men as they trickled home. Basically, as soon as the war was over, gender roles returned to “normal”. Women went back inside the house tending to the children and cooking for the family, while the men were out farming and providing financially.

Although gender roles did not change for good during the Civil War, it opened windows for women in the future. This instance showed women were just as capable as men for most jobs in the community and could be of assistance in the daily workload.

Works Cited

Collett, Janelle. “All is Fair”: Women and the American Civil War. Web. 17 Feb 2014.
VandeCreek, Drew E., Ph.D. “Illinois During the Civil War: Women’s Experience and Gender Roles”. Web. 17 Feb 2014.
Unknown. Digital Image. Live and Dream a Little Dream. Google Blogs, 30 Mar 2011. Web 25 Feb 2014.

World War ll: Gender Roles


World War ll marked the new era of the necessity of women in wartime efforts. In the beginning of the war, mainly the women already in the workforce accepted the positions of the males off fighting. That included the lower economic class and minorities. Mothers were slow to join the workforce for many reasons. Some husbands refused to allow their wives to work, simply because it went against tradition. Other mothers did not want to join because they were afraid, if left home alone, their children would rebel. Though toward the end of the war a large portion of women were working, even mothers.

Rosie the Riveter played a large part in women joining the workforce. Although Rosie was a fictional character, her confidence displayed in the propaganda boosted the morale of all women involved. Rosie gave women of that generation a voice and the initiative to take on the roles of the men. The United States government used posters of Rosie the Riveter to persuade women to join the workforce. This article played off of women’s emotions and it worked. With Rosie plastered on walls all over the country, there was no escaping her.

As the war continued, more women were needed to fill the spots of men and take on new jobs to help keep the country running. Women were military nurses, factory workers, secretaries and some became pilots. Women were more involved in World War ll than any war in the past. Some women even worked in the Armed Services. Over 400,000 women served. There were also the occupations of Government Girls and WAVES. Government Girls were young, mostly single, women who went to Washington D.C. to work in the capitol. Some were secretaries, while others sat as chairmen on different projects. WAVES stood for “Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services”. This was a division of the Navy. Women made up almost three percent of the Navy in World War ll. WAVES was also the first place women were commissioned as officers.

Works Cited

Rockwell, Norman. Dartbeat: The D’s Daily Blog. Digital Image. Web. 01 March 2014.

Naval History and Heritage Command. “Women and the US Navy- WWll Era WAVES.” Web. 01 March 2014.

“Partners in Winning the War: American Women in World War ll.” National Women’s History Museum, 2007. Web. 01 March 2014.

United States. National Park Service. “Rosie the Riveter: Women Working During World War ll.” US Department of the Interior. Web. 01 March 2014.