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Virginia Wesleyan College
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Student Research Projects

The Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs): Changing Gender Roles in the World War II Workforce

Student Laura A. Straley
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department History
Course History 460/461


Just as WWI created new jobs for women, so did WWII. Therefore, it is important to note how the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs) reflected these changes. The WASPs challenged gender hierarchy and traditional gender roles by entering the Army Air Force (AAF), in which they competed for aeronautical jobs with AAF men, even though they still accepted their service as temporary. Thus, the WASPs reflected pre-feminist attitudes concerning their roles as women pilots during WWII. Overall, I learned how the WASPs were able to challenge gender roles by entering the workforce of WWII, in which they contributed to the war effort, but also gained the mastery of flying numerous airplanes for the AAF, which enabled the women to accomplish the same aeronautical tasks as AAF men.

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