Women in Combat

A Reference Handbook

by Rosemarie Skaine


Roughly 20 percent of today's U.S. military force are women. During the Persian Gulf War, 41,000 women were deployed to the Middle East, many of them exposed to enemy fire and possible capture. Yet nearly 20 years later, the controversy over whether—and in what capacity—female soldiers should be deployed continues.

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Cover image for Women in Combat

January 2011


Pages 319
Volumes 1
Size 6x9
Topics Women's Studies/General

This handbook provides a straightforward account of how women have served in combat roles and explains the ongoing controversy surrounding efforts to legalize combat assignments for female service members.

Women have been excluded from combat roles for most of American history. During conflicts such as the American Civil War, a few women enlisted as men; in some cases, their identities as women were not discovered until after their deaths. Today, the nontraditional battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan have no clearly defined front lines, and many female soldiers have found themselves face-to-face with the enemy. Yet despite the realities of modern warfare, the subject of women serving in combat roles remains highly controversial.

Women in Combat: A Reference Handbook examines the historical background, current dilemmas, and global context of this contentious issue. The author explores both sides of the argument, presenting information from leading sources and gleaned from personal interviews. Statistical data, primary source documents, a directory of organizations, and print and electronic resources offer additional insight.


  • Offers insights obtained from exclusive interviews with distinguished long-time female military officers, international scholars, and religious leaders
  • Contains relevant materials such as the 1988 Risk Rule, Soldier's Creed, Department of Defense ground combat policy, and USC 6015
  • Includes biographical information on more than 25 women who have served or are serving in combat positions, as well as advocates and opponents of combat roles for women
  • Presents a chronology of significant events related to women in the military from 1775 to 2010
  • Contains a bibliography of important materials to assist readers in further study of this controversial subject
  • Provides a glossary defining key military acronyms and terms


  • Biographical sketches illustrate the service of women in combat
  • Illuminates the current status of women serving in the U.S. armed forces
  • Provides an extensive analysis of combat law and policy
  • Presents a comprehensive examination of the debate over bringing official policy in line with the actuality of women already serving in combat
Series Description

Contemporary World Issues

This award-winning series offers comprehensive, one-volume reference handbooks on important topics related to health, education, the environment, and social and ethical issues.

24-hour cable news. Millions of Internet sites. Information overload. How can we sort through the information? Assess the analyses? Trust the sources?

A world of questions demands a library of answers. Contemporary World Issues covers the controversial topics that students, readers, and citizens want to read about, write about, and know more about.


  • Subject coverage spans six main categories:
  • Criminal Justice
  • Environment
  • Gender and Ethnicity
  • Politics, Law, and Government
  • Science, Technology, and Medicine
  • Society
  • Each volume offers a rich array of resources:
  • A background and history essay that provides essential context and grounding for further study
  • A balanced summary of ongoing controversies and proposed solutions that show numerous paths for further research on pressing, contemporary questions
  • A forum of authoritative perspective essays by experts, offering a broad spectrum of arguments on the issues
  • Carefully selected annotated documents, tables, and graphs that supports statistical literacy and investigation of primary sources
  • A chronology of events, legislation, and movements that place events in sequence and draw connections between them
  • Annotated lists of print, Web, and multimedia resources that power the next steps for in-depth research
  • Profiles of key players and organizations
  • A glossary of key terms
Author Info

Rosemarie Skaine, MA, is a sociologist and an award-winning author whose published works include Women of Afghanistan in the Post-Taliban Era: How Lives Have Changed and Where They Stand Today; Women Political Leaders in Africa; The Cuban Family: Custom and Change in an Era of Hardship; and Paternity and American Law. The accolades she has received include The Gustavus Myers Center Award for the Study of Human Rights in North America and the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Award for Excellence.



"The thoroughness of this work, and the impressive list of references concluding each chapter, indicates the enormous amount of research that went into it. . . . Researchers will appreciate the lengthy annotated list of print and non-print resources, definitive glossary, and extensive index."School Library Journal

"A new addition to the Contemporary World Issues series, this work provides a good overview of the issue of women in combat. . . . Overall, this work is a nicely arranged, easy-to-use introduction to the topic."Choice

"A solid, unbiased reference handbook concerning a vital modern-day issue—that of women serving in military combat. . . . Women in Combat is highly recommended especially for public and college library military shelves."Midwest Book Review

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