Her Cold War

Women in the U.S. Military, 1945–1980

By Tanya L. Roth

320 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 12 halftones, 5 tables, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6443-9
    Published: September 2021
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6442-2
    Published: September 2021
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-6444-6
    Published: September 2021
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-6046-0
    Published: September 2021

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While Rosie the Riveter had fewer paid employment options after being told to cede her job to returning World War II veterans, her sisters and daughters found new work opportunities in national defense. The 1948 Women’s Armed Services Integration Act created permanent military positions for women with the promise of equal pay. Her Cold War follows the experiences of women in the military from the passage of the Act to the early 1980s. 

In the late 1940s, defense officials structured women’s military roles on the basis of perceived gender differences. Classified as noncombatants, servicewomen filled roles that they might hold in civilian life, such as secretarial or medical support positions. Defense officials also prohibited pregnant women and mothers from remaining in the military and encouraged many women to leave upon marriage. Before civilian feminists took up similar issues in the 1970s, many servicewomen called for a broader definition of equality free of gender-based service restrictions. Tanya L. Roth shows us that the battles these servicewomen fought for equality paved the way for women in combat, a prerequisite for promotion to many leadership positions, and opened opportunities for other servicepeople, including those with disabilities, LGBT and gender nonconforming people, noncitizens, and more.

About the Author

Tanya L. Roth received her Ph.D. in history from Washington University. She teaches history at Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School. 

For more information about Tanya L. Roth, visit the Author Page.


“Well-researched, well-written. . . . Thanks to Tanya L. Roth, we now understand that . . . women [becoming] fully integrated into the American military was a complex phenomenon that had its roots inside the military as well as in sociocultural changes outside of it.”—Southwestern Historical Quarterly

"Focused on a crucial, though often-overlooked time period, Her Cold War follows servicewomen’s struggles not only to integrate the U.S. military but also to transform it. Tanya L. Roth skillfully and seamlessly restores ‘womanpower’ to its central place in the history of the American military and the women’s movement, demonstrating once and for all the irretractable ties between second-wave feminism and Cold War national defense."—Kara Dixon Vuic, author of The Girls Next Door: Bringing the Home Front to the Front Lines

“An important contribution to military history, women’s history, and U.S. social and cultural history.”—Heather Marie Stur, author of Beyond Combat: Women and Gender in the Vietnam War Era