views updated

Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service

Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, known as WAVES, was a branch of the U.S. Navy formed during World War II (1939–45) in which women could enlist. Before its formation, women could serve only as nurses in the navy. In an effort to make more men available for combat positions, women were accepted through WAVES to serve in support positions.

There was great social resistance to opening up the armed forces to women. The demands of a worldwide war, however, outweighed these concerns. Congress created WAVES on July 30, 1942. Unlike the women's unit of the army—the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps — WAVES was given full military status, and its members therefore enjoyed full benefits. Women in WAVES held clerical positions, but they were also used as aviation instructors, intelligence agents, scientists, and engineers. Over 100,000 women served during World War II through WAVES.

WAVES gained permanent status as part of the navy in 1948 with the passage of the Women's Armed Services Integration Act. It continued to function as a separate branch of the navy until 1972, when the armed forces became integrated, with men and women serving equally.

About this article

Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article