Women's participation in the military has been restricted since gender integration began. About 33,000 women served in World War I -- 20,000 of them in the Army and Navy Nurse Corps, which were separate from the regular Army and Navy. In World War II, manpower shortages and reports of valuable performance by women in other countries' armed forces led the United States to utilize approximately 350,000 women for its own military effort. The attack on Pearl Harbor resulted in the creation of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) and Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES). Women typically filled nursing and administrative jobs, which were consistent with civilian women's work, although they also served in all other noncombat jobs. The 350,000 women who served in World War II were regarded as temporary support that would free more men for combat.
After the war, women's future role with the military was called into question. In 1948, the year President Truman mandated racial integration, Congress passed the Women's Armed Services Integration Act, which placed highly specific limits on the women who would now be allowed to join the Army. Women could make up no more than 2 percent of the total enlisted ranks; the proportion of female officers could equal no more than 10 percent of enlisted women. No woman could serve in a command position, attain the rank of general, or hold permanent rank above lieutenant colonel. This act specifically prohibited women from being assigned to aircraft or vessels engaged in combat missions. While these combat assignment