Permanent Status

The Women’s Armed Services Integration Act of 1948 gave women a permanent role in the military. The WAVES went from being a wartime reserve to an actual branch of the Navy.

The Women in Military Service for America Memorial describes the limitations of the Act:

The act placed a two percent ceiling on the number of women in each of the services, restricted promotions to one full colonel or Navy captain as Chief of the Nurse Corps and/or Service Director, and limited the number of female officers who could serve as lieutenant colonels or Navy commanders. The law also granted the service Secretaries authority to discharge women without specified cause and restricted women from flying aircraft engaged in combat and from being assigned to ships engaged in combat.

Nonetheless, it was a start. Some of the World War II WAVES converted to the new permanent division.

This photograph shows the first six women being sworn into the regular U.S. Navy. It comes from the Naval History and Heritage Command.

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