Women in the US Military: The Evolution of Gender Norms and Military Requirements

TitleWomen in the US Military: The Evolution of Gender Norms and Military Requirements
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsSandhoff, Michelle, and Mady Wechsler Segal
EditorKennedy, David
Book TitleThe Modern American Military
PublisherOxford University Press
City, CountryNew York

Though service in the military traditionally has been a masculine endeavor, women have played important roles in the military throughout history. In the United States, women have participated in every war. In this chapter, we consider the history of women’s service in the U.S. military, which has increased dramatically over time. We analyze the reasons for the changes in women’s participation in the armed forces. Enabling factors, those that can set the stage for increases in women’s military participation, include changes in gender norms relating to family and labor force participation. Driving factors, such as legislative or judicial decree or changes in military needs, can quickly reshape women’s military roles. We use this framework to describe the historical changes in women’s service in the U.S. military, including an in-depth discussion of the roles of women in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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