The role of women in warfare changed dramatically over the last 250 years. It’s evolved from being primarily concerned with caring and supportive roles to front line combat. Today women stand on equal footing with men.
It wasn’t always this case. In the Revolutionary wars, the idea that women might be involved in front-line combat was not even considered. The job of women in the military was to provide nursing support, taking care of men as they returned injured from the battlefield.
However, as the following infographic shows, things began to change after the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Women were entering the workforce in vast numbers, and there was increasing pressure for the military to accept women into its ranks.
The change didn’t happen quickly. However, in 1975, President Gerald Ford signed a piece of legislation that said that women could train at military academies and enter the army. Before long, several thousand women had signed up for training at a range of institutions up and down the country.
Women, however, still weren’t allowed to perform roles in every part of the military. Women, it was believed, were not suited to front line combat because of the strength and speed required for missions in the field. But by 2013, even that perception had begun to change, and just two years later, the then Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, announced that women would be able to apply for any position in the military, without exception.
Check out the following infographic for more on how the role of women in the military has changed over the years.
Infographic by Norwich University