The Changing Role Of Women In The Military: A Journey Through History

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There are currently more than 71,000 active duty women in the US military. The number of women joining the forces has increased significantly in recent years, and the role of females has changed enormously. From caretakers and nurses to fully-fledged, highly-trained fighters, this infographic outlines a fascinating journey through history. 

Women started life in the military in a caretaking capacity. They were employed as nurses, chefs and seamstresses in the Revolutionary War before assuming more responsibility in the Civil War. Dorothea Dix became the first woman to serve in a federally appointed role after being appointed the superintendent of women nurses. During the Spanish-American war, an outbreak of typhoid caused the demand for skilled nurses to soar, and in 1898, the Surgeon General was given permission to offer female nurses contracts. 

The next major milestone was in 1974 when the University of Norwich permitted women to join its cadet corps. Two years later, President Ford signed a bill to enable women to enroll in military academies. Since West Point opened, more than 4,100 women have graduated, and application rates continue to increase. 

In 2013, Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta rescinded restrictions that prevented women from serving in active combat, and in 2015, Ashton Carter, Panetta’s successor, confirmed that all combat jobs would be open to women from January 2016. 

Since then, females have risen through the ranks, occupying leadership roles during combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 86,000 women were deployed in these countries. 

The role of women has evolved over the course of time, and women have an integral role to play in the US military, as detailed in the insightful infographic below. 

Infographic Design By Norwich University

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