In January 2017, the first female Marines graduated from infantry school. In 2016, the first female soldiers became infantry officers. Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson also took over as leader of U.S. Northern Command in 2016, becoming the first female service member to lead a unified combatant command and thus the highest ranking woman in U.S. military history. We also saw female enlisted sailors deploy on submarines for the first time ever.
In every case, these were historic firsts for the armed services, and a reminder that the military still has a long way to go before it is a truly integrated institution. But, since the United States first declared itself an independent nation, American women have found ways to serve their country despite resistance from men, sometimes going as far as impersonating male soldiers to join the fight at the frontlines.
In honor of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, Task & Purpose has compiled a list of historic milestones that changed the course of our nation — milestones set by servicewomen who refused to accept the status quo and paved the way for the next generation. This is by no means a complete timeline; this is simply a snippet of those accomplishments.