From Yeomanettes to Fighter Jets

A Century of Women in the U.S. Navy

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From Yeomanettes to Fighter Jets addresses a major element of twenty-first century sea power —the integration of women into all military units of the U.S. Navy. Randy Goguen delineates the cultural, economic, and political conditions as well as the technological changes that shaped this movement over the course of a century. Starting with the establishment of the Yeomen (F) in World War I and continuing through today to address the current arguments over the registration of women for Selective Service and the reform of the military justice system, Goguen describes how changes in civilian society affected the U. S. Navy and the role of Navy women. She highlights the contributions of key women and men in the military and civilian spheres who were willing to challenge convention and prejudice to advance the integration of women and make the U.S. Navy a stronger institution.

Today women in the U.S. Navy have proven themselves essential to the mission success of the service. They are forward deployed around the world, sharing the same risks as their male counterparts. Some have commanded logistics and combatant ships, including aircraft carriers. They fly and maintain combat and patrol aircraft and serve as crew members on ships and submarines. Some hold major commands ashore and have risen to the highest echelons of navy leadership.

Integrating women into the U.S. Navy has been a long and often contentious process, as women strived to overcome resistance imposed by prevailing cultural and institutional norms and patriarchal prejudices. Goguen, a retired naval reserve officer who holds a PhD in military history from Temple University, has written a comprehensive and up-to-date history of women’s integration into the Navy She argues that throughout the process, the decisive force driving progress was exigency. That exigency took various forms: two world wars, communist expansionism in the Cold War, the ending of the draft and the establishment of the All-Volunteer Force, as well as the political pressures posed by social change, especially the mid twentieth- century feminist and contemporary “Me Too” movements. Despite a deeply ingrained institutional resistance cultivated within an insular, often misogynist, sea-going subculture, today’s U.S. Navy could not meet its mission requirements without women. Goguen asserts, “Exigency is the mother of integration.”

About the Author

Editorial Reviews

"For 21 years, I represented “the fighting spirit of the Navy and those who have gone before me” without fully understanding how accurate those words in the Sailor’s Creed are. Goguen’s From Yeomanettes to Fighter Jets changed that. It is an exceptionally well-written journey through the history of women in the Navy. Like many who joined because of 9/11, I had no illusions of what I was getting into. Service and sacrifice are universal, and we were at war. However, I had no genuine appreciation of how far women in the Navy had come or how many hard-won battles it took to allow me to continue what they started. This book captures the history of those who refused to accept the status quo, individuals who intrinsically understood that accepting things just because “that’s the way it’s always been done” are accepting mediocrity and ceding the advantage to the enemy." Ama M. Adair, CWO, USN (Ret.) and author of the Elle Anderson Thriller Series.
“Randy Goguen brilliantly lays out the critical connection between the halting advances of women in the US Navy from World War I until today and how this followed the general advance of women in society. Goguen gives a detailed and highly readable account of the intense struggle in the cultural, legislative, and political, as well as naval, fields to move women from their early role as non-combatant shore-based typists to aviators, submariners and, now, commanders of carriers.”Kathleen Broome Williams naval historian and author of Grace Hopper
"This is the essential honest account of the history that many of us have lived through, and before reading this amazing book, I didn’t even know the full story. Excellently researched and well written. An absolute must read for anyone who claims interest in America’s Navy. It is a testament to the service and sacrifice of so many women (and men) in the Navy and Marine Corps over the past 100 years that as of today, all jobs are open to women so that the very best people can be recruited and retained to defend the nation."—Lt. Col. Amy McGrath, USMC (Ret.) and founder of Honor Bound
"Randy Goguen presents a fascinating account of women’s efforts to integrate the U.S. Navy from World War I until the present. Goguen, a former Naval intelligence officer, applies her analytical skills to describing how the exigencies of war and culture battled notions of 'True Womanhood' in an uneven trajectory toward women’s parity. She tells an even-handed story not only of changing policies but also of the forceful personalities that have made the full integration of women in the Navy a step closer to reality."—Elizabeth Atwood, Professor, Hood College and author of The Liberation of Marguerite Harrison


More Info

Check out the U.S. Naval Institute Archives exhibit Anchored in History: Celebrating Women of the Navy and WAVES at Work for interesting photos of women serving in the Navy.