7 The Impact of Women’s Auxiliary Services on Great Britain and the United States during World War II

Download a pdf of this paper

Azra Ozturk, Howard Community College

Mentored by: Benjamin Miller & Cheryl J. Campo, Ph.D.

Abstract

This paper analyzes the impact of women’s auxiliary services in the military during World War II in Great Britain and America. A study of these services shows how the combination of legislation, human capital, and style of leadership were necessary for the increasing number of women in the military. This research showcases factors that increase female involvement in military roles. These services explored included the British Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF), and Women’s Royal Navy Service (WRNS). Similarly, the United States had the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), and Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES). Primary sources including diaries, letters, autobiographical writings of the women who worked in these organizations was instrumental in understanding the rarely seen before, first-hand experiences of these British and American service women. This research highlights how these women defied gender norms of the time period and paved the way for many female soldiers today, despite the sexism they faced in the workplace. While the three factors of legislation, human capital, and leadership were present in both Britain and the U.S, there was a difference between the two countries in terms of chronology and implementation. Britain’s foundation of more women’s military roles during WWI pushed forward their development of women’s involvement in WWII further compared to the United States. Britain’s progress in increasing women’s participation in the military influenced the U.S to expand women’s contributions and roles during WWII. The leadership of these women was fundamental in the defense of Britain and the United States against the Axis powers of World War II. Due to their heavy involvement as recent organizations in this time period, it can be argued that their service was essential to the success of the Allied powers throughout WWII.

Introduction

During World War II, there were various changes in the demographics of individuals working in the military. One aspect of the war that had monumental change was the increasing participation of women through military services. These changes for women’s auxiliary services in the military can be seen worldwide throughout WWII, though the United States and Britain in particular displayed vast developments in women’s auxiliary services compared to what was observed in the past. The women in these roles paved the way for female military officials today and their involvement influenced women’s identities in society beyond strict gender norms of that time period. In Britain, women’s auxiliary services included the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF), female officials in the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), and Women’s Royal Navy Service (WRNS). The United States had female officials in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), and Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES). It is essential to reference (Figure 1) and (Figure 2) at the bottom of this paper to conceptualize the organization of women’s auxiliary services discussed in this paper. These organizations were initially created to meet the needs of employment in non-combat occupations throughout the war, in which this goal was met by the auxiliary service officials, though it could be argued that they achieved advanced positions and heavy military involvement that even surpassed those expectations. Although women’s auxiliary services in the military previously existed in both America and Britain during the previous war, World War I (WWI), their roles were limited and there were much more women employed in WWII. There are various factors that allowed more women to participate in WWII, but there are three highly influential factors that are displayed in history to increase female military officials. This paper highlights how the combination of legislation, human capital, and style of leadership were factors necessary for the increasing of women in the military. The factor of legislation refers to how policy and laws passed, along with actions of leaders in government, influenced the development of these organizations as well as helped or hindered their involvement in the military. Human capital highlights resources, training, and prior experience of officials which impacted the employment of women throughout these organizations. The component of style of leadership references the positive affect leaders of the auxiliary services along with individuals in government or military had in fostering the success of the organizations. It is essential to note that the term “official” utilized throughout this paper refers to any individual who worked in any of the auxiliary services.

At the outbreak of WWII in 1939, as Britain’s men were employed in primarily combat jobs in the military, the roles of women were changing including access to auxiliary positions in the military. Former WWI organizations were reactivated, including the WAAF, ATS, and WRNS. British women were eager to support defense initiatives at the start of the war. Drill halls were promptly flooded soon after the announcement that one of the organizations, the ATS, was revived.  In these organizations, women in such capacities as radio transmitters, machine operators, cooks, clerks, messengers, naval auxiliaries, and typists, for example.  Through the development of organizations for women’s auxiliary services such as the ATS, WRNS, and the WAAF, Britain was able to successfully defend itself from axis powers during WWII. Women’s roles in these wartime organizations caused monumental changes in employment and women’s societal roles in Britain.

In the United States, new women’s auxiliary services were established in WWII and they were not related to previous organizations in WWI. The development of auxiliary services in America actually began in 1942 with only the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). The WAAC remained as an auxiliary section to the military until it had changed into the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) in 1943, due to the success of the WAAC. When the WAAC was transformed into the WAC, it was given full military status and was not just displayed as an auxiliary unit. The Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) was established in 1942, and the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) was created even later in 1943. Women were eager to begin working in the military.  For example, Yashila Permeswaran states that “At the New York Convention for the League of Business and Professional Women, one woman said, ‘I want to do anything in my power to assist my country, and I know that there are great numbers of women who are of the same mind.’” [1] Despite this, there was opposition by legislature and male military officials of women working in the military examined further in this paper. As a result of this, there was a delay in including female officials in the military compared to Britain.  Despite the tense political debate surrounding the women officials in the military, these women fulfilled many roles throughout these organizations. They held positions which included clerks, radio operators, cooks, weather observers, laboratory technicians, weapon repairers, aviation mechanic workers, photographers, operators at control towers, and auxiliary pilots. Even though these American women faced tougher restraints on their ability to work in the military compared to Britain, they still caused massive change in the defense of Allied powers in WWII and defied strict gender norms of the 1940s.

This article analyzes first-hand resources from women who worked in the military during World War II in Britain and America, including diaries and letters. Alongside these first-hand sources, this research utilizes comprehensive secondary sources that provide more insight into the topic. The combination of primary sources along with secondary sources in this paper is important to identify how the three factors of legislation, human capital, and style of leadership were determining factors in increasing women involvement in the military. As these three factors are present, they assist in breaking societal gender norms that cause this disparity between men and women working in the military.

There were struggles of accessibility in the exploration of secondary and primary sources in databases as well as books during the process of this research. It is essential to note that a part of breaking this disparity between men and women in the military in terms of employment is to provide sufficient recognition and historical records of women breaking barriers. This is especially important in time periods such as WWII where many limiting gender norm barriers are being broken for the first time. This research aims to provide more analysis of historical information and recognition through these sources, as it is important to making a positive impact towards breaking strict gender norms.

Historical Overview of Women’s Auxiliary Services in Britain

The Auxiliary Territorial Service

The most popular British women’s military organization at the beginning of WWII, the Auxiliary Territorial Service provided numerous opportunities for ambitious women.  National television through the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) announced the revival of the ATS on September 27, 1938 and employment rates rapidly increased the following year. By December 1939, employment of 43,000 female ATS officials was surprisingly high from the expected margin of 25,000.[2] Though, throughout the history of the organization, the most populated female military organization, the ATS, was also the least desired. Pauline Leslie displays an example of this popular sentiment: “I had wanted to go in the WRENs [Women’s Royal Navy Service], you had to have some connection with the Navy you see. I went to Birmingham and had the medical for the WRENs, but when I got to the interview they only had vacancies for cooks and orderlies. Well I didn’t want that so they said, well you’ll get called up for ATS then.” [3] This wider dislike of the ATS and preference for the WAAF and WRNS is a result of the ATS’s lower reputation in British society at the time, even though the ATS had the most officials out of all three organizations.

Additionally, due to Britain not receiving mass amounts of military support from women before, accommodations, resources, and training designated for females were not suitable. This also includes the popular disregard for their uniform, as it was widely hated and seen as unfeminine.[2] Grace Gollan, an ATS official at the time, despised the stockings which came with the uniform: “Ooh, those awful stockings, heavy, thick lisle things. They looked horrible.” [3] Changes to resources were taken into action after the initial director of the ATS, Gwynne-Vaughan, was changed to Jean Knox in 1941 to be more suited to popular demand.[2] These adjustments had led to changing societal views of the ATS and restored a sense of preferred femininity for ATS officials. The ATS also promoted a somewhat egalitarian environment for their recruits as they expected officials to sign up from a variety of backgrounds, ages, and economic standings.[2] Support for women of different backgrounds to join was correlated with how the military wanted more women to be recruited into the ATS along with other female military organizations, leading to advertising that would appeal to a wide array of people.  This included advertising that promoted feminist and patriotic views in fighting “a peoples war,” along with advertising that appealed to a more conservative outlook displaying supposed disparities within female and male recruits.

Alongside unequal pay with their male counterparts, the members of the ATS could not reach the same military status. Enacted in 1941, the Army Act allowed members of the ATS and other women organizations to reach equal military status, or higher rank than male officials.[2] Not only did this empower women who went into the ATS and lessened demeaning behaviors, it additionally impacted employment immensely. The following year, the ATS employment rate went from 85,100 to 180,700 officials.[2] In addition to the Army Act boosting employment, it also enacted more rules of discipline, including that an ATS recruit cannot leave her job voluntarily.

The Women’s Auxiliary Air Force

In June of 1939, officials who worked in the Royal Air Force departments of the ATS were redirected into a newly revived Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, after it was concluded by the air ministry that they needed their own organization. At the time, it was necessary to separate the Royal Air Force companies from the ATS, due to clashing factors.[4] The WAAF specialized entirely in the non-combat fields of the Air Force, compared to their Air Transport Auxiliary Services (ATA) counterpart. In the beginning of the war, the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force specialized in small roles such as drivers and clerks, though later they started to take on roles including utilization of telegraphy, deciphering codes, and interpreting aerial photographs.  Women were even involved in aircraft construction, engineering, and other mechanical roles.[5]

At the time of the WAAF, they had more social merit than that of the ATS, as the ATS was viewed of a lower status but was much less populated throughout the war. [2] Similar to the ATS, the WAAF showcased an egalitarian environment and camaraderie among the officials. As described by Irene Edgar, a WAAF official, “It didn’t matter what you had, people were people and there really were all sorts. There was a real spirit of camaraderie.” [3] This sense of camaraderie was additionally seen in the other two organizations as well, as many women bonded through occupational means in these organizations. Letters demonstrate that these women identify officials’ class, background, and age at first interactions with other officials but can create friendships in their military environment regardless of these factors.

The WAAF was a large part of the Royal Air Force, making up about fifteen percent of the RAF in certain years, compared to the ATS and WRNS who made up a maximum of 8 percent. Relating back to the Army Act that had a massive influence on the employment of officials in all organizations, during 1942 the percentage of officials from the WAAF in the RAF went from around 10 to 15 percent. The number of WAAF officials also skyrocketed at that time, approximately 98,400 to 166,000 officials in the year following the Army Act.[2] Additionally, there was an escalation of events such as D-Day in Britain during World War II in 1942 that may have caused a higher number of workers in these organizations, though the Army Act played a large part due to the conscription of women and empowering nature of the new rules. Societal views of those who worked in the WAAF changed drastically during the war. At first, they only had a few job choices and were looked down upon by male RAF officials. Later on, they were able to gain military statuses equal to those of their male counterparts, receive more respect among their colleagues, and take on more advanced roles. For instance, as quoted by a group captain who at first believed women could not work in the war: “I have cause to thank goodness that this country can produce such a race of women as the WAAF of my station.” [6] A correlation exists between changes in societal views of those who worked in these organizations and employment rates during these years. After the Army Act was enacted in 1941, employment rates increased rapidly and colleagues gave more respect to their female counterparts due to societal views of women officials becoming more acceptable. In evaluating the overall extent of how much employment and support the auxiliary services provided throughout WWII, their substantial impact is displayed in statistics regarding their involvement relative to their respective counter parts. For instance, the WAAF at its peak in 1943 made up over 15 percent of the Royal Air Force (RAF). [2]

The Women’s Royal Navy Service

On April 12, 1939, the Women’s Royal Navy Service was finally revived, after pressure from former W.R.N.S officials toward the Royal Navy Service.[4] The WRNS adapted their characteristics to be most similar to their structure in World War I, compared to the other two organizations. It was the only organization to adopt the same name and nickname, the “Wrens,” from the previous war. The director of the WRNS in WWII, Vera Laughton Matthews, was an active official in World War I and her experience was beneficial to the workings of the revived WRNS organization, as she worked in officer positions during WWI.[4] The roles of the WRNS were relatively similar to that of the WAAF, including clerks, cooks, drivers, and in roles conducting weather forecasts as well as utilizing communication equipment. The WRNS also translated enemy signals and participated in naval operations vital to D-Day. There was a period in which WRNS officials were sent overseas, including an experience described by Sheila, a Wren in Egypt: “Our offices overlook the harbor and all the ships, and we have a lovely garden so I think we are very lucky. I went into town today to get my hair done.” [7] As described by Sheila through her letters back home, her WRNS experience consisted of completing her work at an office with others who work in the Royal Navy Services and visits to the town for cultural experiences. Through the revival of auxiliary services, new opportunities typically not seen in pre-WWII for women, gave a chance for British women in the WRNS to learn about the culture of their base’s location. Sheila became immersed in Egyptian culture throughout the town. Travelling and being sent outside of the country was part of the WRNS and also officials from the WAAF and ATS. The WRNS were additionally the least populated organization out of the three due to necessity, as they stayed at only 72,000 officials. Interestingly, the numbers of officials only increased until 1945, whereas the other organizations reached their peak in numbers between 1942-1944 and decreased from there.[2]

Historical Overview of Women’s Auxiliary Services in the United States

Women’s Army Corps

In the United States, inclusion of women in the military beyond nursing began with the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). Representative Edith Nourse Rogers introduced the bill for development of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) in 1941. Initially, it was ignored by other legislative officials and was not enacted until the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941. [1] As many government officials and Army leaders found that there would be a need of more people in the military while the war continued, the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) bill was founded in May 15, 1942. After the development of the organization, the WAAC experienced limitations of only 150,000 female officials being permitted in the military as well as lower titles than male officials.[8]

Various government officials were scoffed at the notion of women being included in the military, including a Congressman Andrew Lawrence Somers who mentioned that “I take this opportunity to express my definite and sincere opposition to what I consider the silliest piece of legislation that has ever come before my notice in the years I have served here. A woman’s army to defend the United States of America. Think of the humiliation. What has become of the manhood of America, that we have to call on our women to do what has ever been the duty of men?” [1] However, there were more practical representatives who showed the necessity of women in the war, such as Representative Charles A. Plumley who said “You cannot win this war without women.” [1] This opposition to women in the military throughout the U.S. was not found to be as vehement in Britain.

After a year of constant debate concerning the status of women in the military, finally on July 1, 1943, the WAAC was changed into the Women’s Auxiliary Corps (WAC). This transformation into more integration in the military removed the limitation of only 150,000 female officials being permitted in the military, allowed the same titles as men, and changed the entry age from 21-45 to 20-49. [8] Oveta Culp Hobby, the WAC director, had a significant effort in the change from WAAC to WAC. She additionally pushed to ensure that the officials in the WAC were treated on par with male officials in the Army. [8]

Throughout the advancement of the WAC during the war, women were able to move to more advanced positions such as becoming mechanics, cryptographers, weather observers, intelligence analysts, carpenters, photographers, and heavy equipment operators. [8] One WAC official, Mary B. Johnston, describes her experience in being trained for a position she previously knew nothing about, “None of us was qualified to be a cryptanalyst. In fact, cryptography was only a word to be looked up in the dictionary until we started our classes. We learned the art of cryptography…We learned to master a number of systems but went even further.” [9] WAC officials were even able to receive training and take up positions working with anti-aircraft artillery, in which they displayed significant efficiency. Alongside taking part in multiple positions in the U.S, the WAC officials were able to work overseas in various countries including England, India, France, Morocco, Algeria, Australia, and Germany. [8] This ability to work overseas caused similar experiences to overseas opportunities British officials faced such as exposure to various cultures. During WWII, more than 150,000 women served in the WAC. [10]

The Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service

The Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) was created shortly after the WAAC, as many military and political leaders realized the need for women officials in the Navy. Before the creation of the WAVES, naval leaders were planning organization of how women officials in the WAVES would be integrated in their positions as well as their potential needs. Commander Ralph Ofstie actually returned from serving in London during this planning, and brought useful information about the WRENS in Britain, to assist leaders in developing the WAVES. [11] Eventually, six months after the development of the WAAC organization, the WAVES was created on July 30, 1942 through passage of the Navy Women’s Reserve Act. [11] As the Women’s Advisory Council searched for the best individual to lead the WAVES, they appointed Mildred McAfee, the president of Wellesley college at the time, as the acting director of the WAVES. [11] Her expertise as a director allowed the WAVES to build their reputation among the Navy. A WAVES captain Joy Hancock notes that Miss McAfee “brought not only prestige to the entire program but also her gift for getting along with people, even with certain recalcitrants, salty officers who ultimately came to see the great service women could perform.” [12] Mildred McAfee was consistently invested in every facet of the WAVES and managed to develop efficiency in officials, which is notably impressive due to being the first director of the new WAVES organization.

WAVES officials were required to have at least some college education, which was not required of the WACs. Applicants to the WAVES were expected to have a college degree or at least 2 years of college education combined with 2 years of professional work. [13] The other organizations primarily required intensive training with a high school education. However, this opened up various positions for the WAVES due to their educational background that involved complex technology, such as aviation machinist mates, metalsmiths, gunnery specialists, control tower operations, aerographer’s mates, maintenance engineers, etc. [13] Multiple WAVES became teachers for their peers as well as male officials, and taught topics including gunnery and even flying. [13] Unfortunately, WAVES were actually banned from working overseas until September 1944 due to limiting legislation. After this ban, WAVES were mostly sent to Hawaii for their services. By the end of the war, approximately 100,000 officials had worked in the WAVES. [9]

Women’s Airforce Service Pilots

During World War II, for the first time in U.S. military history, women became military pilots through the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). Prior to the WASP, the first organization was the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS). This organization was led by Nancy Harkness Love. The WAFS was heavily inspired by the ATA organization from Britain. In fact, the director of the WASPs, Jacqueline Cochran, who was the first woman to fly a bomber across England. [13] Throughout her life, Jacqueline was active in various flying races and earned multiple awards for her flying even before the war. For instance, on April 4, 1938, she was awarded the Harmon Trophy by Eleanor Roosevelt as outstanding female pilot of 1937. [14] Jacqueline and a group of American women worked for the ATA in Britain, and their success influenced the development of the WAFS as well as the WASP. Initially, the WASPs and WAFS were two separate organizations, with the difference between them being that WAFS had more experienced pilots. However, on August 5, 1943, the WASP was finally created after a merge of the two organizations. [13]

Those who joined the WASP were already experienced flyers, and they went through intensive training for their positions. They constantly practiced flying planes and using radios properly during training, the WASP organization had very high standards for the performance of officials. When completing their training, “These women, throughout the length of their service, met the highest aviation standards.” [9] WASP officials had roles including delivering aircraft, flying planes that towed targets for practice gunnery, testing planes for students to utilize, completing maintenance checks on planes, etc. [13]

The WASP pilots certainly faced many risks and even a few fatalities, but continued their work with strong determination. One WASP official, Ann B Carl, states “…it showed the cool courage and dedication of WASPs in their service in the Air Force that they faced the difficulties and dangers here without help from Commanding Officer Stephenson or Cochran or Washington, and took upon themselves the task of protecting themselves as best they could. Without complaints, they continued to fly missions for artillery men who were only just learning to shoot their guns.” [15] Unfortunately, though the WASP officials became successful pilots that were useful to the defense against the war, the WASP organization was shut down on December 20, 1944. [9] Despite only being active for a few years, their work was remarkable as the “WASPs flew more than 75 million (the equivalent of six times around the earth, counting every day of training and operation)”.[9]

Contributing Factors to Increased Female Participation in the Military

As mentioned previously in the introduction, the organizations analyzed in the U.S and Britain both display evidence of legislation, human capital, and effective leadership that worked towards increasing women’s participation in the military. World War II was essentially the first time women were able to have careers in advanced position in the military, thus it is important to analyze the procedures in this time period to determine what aids in increasing employment. The following results will focus on each factor specifically and how the approach of these factors is essential to the outcome of female involvement in the military.

Legislation

In this revolutionary era for women in the workforce, legislation and the laws set by the government were arguably one of the primary causes to what delayed military women from reaching the same conditions and rights as men. Of course, it can be argued that legislation has been used against women for most of history and this is not uncommon. Though, there were active disputes specifically targeting the inclusion of women in the military workforce. This is apparent in both countries that the U.S certainly had a delay in allowing women in the military compared to Britain.

Britain had previous auxiliary organizations in World War I that began to be revived for World War II in 1939, when the U.S. had only begun creating organizations in 1941. This is largely due to the pushback Representative Rogers faced in the U.S. when Congress essentially ignored the enactment of a bill to allow women in the military until the war reached an intense turning point. As highlighted previously, harsh language was utilized in discussions between congressmen concerning the introduction of the WAAC bill, so far as to consider it a humiliation for the country.  It can be partially attributed to the British women’s auxiliary organizations that aided the beginning of America’s WAAC, because various American political officials were impressed by the outcome of European women’s auxiliary organizations. At the time, Britain was a large example to the world due to the acceleration of women’s employment in the military along with how British women were able to show their efficacy in advanced roles.

An example of legislation that uplifted women’s rights in the military workforce as well as increased their employment can be seen in the Army Act of 1941 enacted in Britain. This act allowed members of the auxiliary organizations to reach equal military status, or even higher ranks than male officials. This was essential to boosting employment and also aided them in the workplace because male officials began to lessen harsh demeaning behaviors against the female officials. The Army Act was a necessary step to integration of women in the workplace and allowing them to be recognized for their work in a manner equal to their male counterparts. Similar to the Army Act, when the WAAC organization in America transitioned into the WAC, this allowed officials to have more rights, equal ranks as male officials, and allowed the organization to employ more women into the WAC. This was due to the organization changing from being an auxiliary unit to a direct component of their military counterpart. Overall, both of these bills allowed more women to participate in the military as well as more integration into the workplace.

Human Capital

In terms of how human capital impacts women in the military, this refers to components such as training, prior experience of these officials, and resources available to women while working. Efficient training along with adequate resources are necessary to proactively boost female employment in the military and to create an environment conducive to inclusivity for women entering the workforce. The organizations in this time period display productive training as oftentimes these women were able to take on positions after training, when they had little knowledge of the position previously. As mentioned before, Mary B. Johnston who became a WAC cryptographer had no prior knowledge about cryptography. Even in cases where women were well qualified for their positions, as can be seen with the WASP officials, they still were able to advance their capabilities to the extent of constantly flying as pilots with very minimal fatalities, and were also able to maintain the planes. Some organizations that were successful also included prerequisites in experiences such as the college education requirement of the WAVES. The WASPs included numerous mandatory flight hours prior to admission to their organization. The component of required experience uplifted the abilities of the organizations and the complex occupations available to their officials.

Alongside training and experience, it was essential that components such as uniforms were developed to appeal to the officials. The uniforms are important to considering human capital of the organizations because it was a large part of the representation of the officials as well as a considerable factor to officials of what they sought from the organizations.  For instance, in the ATS initially uniforms were uncomfortable as well as unappealing to the officials, causing many complaints. Once a new uniform style was developed, it boosted employee morale and catered to the needs of the officials. Though these details may seem minor, it is important to evaluate all components that would be influential towards increasing employment of these organizations, especially at a time period in which there was a large need for officials.

Leadership

A critical component to manage relatively new organizations is adequate leadership that can successfully conduct training and military operation, while ensuring adequate integration with their male counterparts to avoid discrimination. Additionally, it was especially important that leaders were successful in operating the organizations because naturally these organizations had little room for error due to women in the military being considered an experimental project. The outcome of women in the workforce for the future partially laid in the hands of these organizations as the world would observe them to consider whether their success merited their participation in the military. All of the organizations in Britain along with the USA were led by women who often had a prestigious background or had prior military experience in WWI. The leader of the ATS from Britain, Gwynne-Vaughan, for instance, had previously been an auxiliary military official in the WWI. Vera Laughton Matthews, who led the WRNS, also had previous military experience in WWI that was beneficial to her leadership. An example of a leader with high prestige and academic background was Mildred McAfee in the WAVES, as she was the former president of the highly esteemed Wellesley college. Alongside successful leaders directing the organizations, support from male leaders in military and government was essential to the accomplishments of these auxiliary services. An example of this as mentioned previously is shown by Representative Plumley in Congress, who expressed that WWII couldn’t be won without the help of women officials.

These leaders of the organizations displayed multiple management skills and qualities that showed their efficiency in directing the organizations. For example, Oveta Culp Hobby constantly tried to ensure that the officials of the WAC were treated equally to their male counterparts. Jacqueline Cochran who led the WASPs, and was arguably one of the best pilots in the world during this time period, displayed determination and intense dedication for the participation of women in that organization. As a WASP official, Margaret Boylan states “But I really believe that her competitive spirit was what got the WASP program up and going…So the success of the WASPs was a tremendous, stupendous effort on her part. I don’t know anyone else who could have done it and been as successful as she was.” Cochran’s ceaseless effort towards development of the WASPs was critical to the existence of the organization because women becoming pilots in the military was never seen before, and it needed her dedication to maintain existence of the WASPs. Therefore, in order to increase involvement of women in military organizations, there must be satisfactory leadership that works towards inclusion of women and can successfully carry out the operation of the organizations.

Conclusion

To conclude, in a time period when women working in the military was stigmatized and vastly uncommon, these women employed by the British and American militaries broke strict gender norm barriers and paved the way for future military officials. These officials were able to take on intensive positions such as pilots, gunnery specialists, control tower operators, work at antiaircraft battery sites, and countless other advanced positions. Members of the women’s auxiliary organizations in these countries had a significant impact on the defense of the allied powers in WWII, and helped ease military labor shortages. Not only did these women make an impact on the military as a whole, they also shaped the premise of what the workforce looked like for women in the following years. It is clear in the evidence provided throughout this paper that the influential involvement of the auxiliary services through employment numbers displays that a substantial part of the Allied powers success in WWII can be attributed to these organizations. It is apparent after this historical research that factors of legislation, human capital, and leadership which worked towards inclusivity of women was required to boost employment of women in the military. These components were necessary to build a workforce that offers an opportunity for all demographics to have a career in the military.

Figures

Figure 1: This is an organization of the British Women’s Auxiliary Services discussed in this paper for reference to the reader.
Figure 2: This is an organization of the United States Women’s Auxiliary Services discussed in this paper for reference to the reader.

 

Contacts: azra.ozturk@howardcc.edu


References

License

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Journal of Research in Progress Vol. 4 by Howard Community College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book