About 350,000 women served in the armed forces during the war, and many more provided supporting services.
Some 140,000 joined the Women’s Army Corps (WAC); most did office work, but a few served in intelligence and other nontraditional areas.
Another 100,000 women signed up with the navy’s WAVES (short for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service or, as some women phrased it, Women Are Very Essential Sometimes).
Many thousands of women also joined the Army Nurse Corps and Navy Nurse Corps. A number of women, mostly nurses, died while serving their country; others were captured and held as prisoners of war.
Although African American women could join the Women’s Army Corps, they were segregated from white enlistees.
For most of the war, black women were kept out of the WAVES. The number of black nurses allowed into the Army Nurse Corps was severely limited, and the Navy Nurse Corps did not admit them at all.
Other women of color also faced discrimination, but Native American, Latina, and Asian American women all served during the war.
During World War 11 hundreds of thousands of women volunteers helped the U.S. forces at home and abroad. These women did everything from raising money by selling war bonds to driving ambulances.
Margaret Fukouka, a private in the Women’s Army Corps, was one of the many Japanese Americans who served their country during World War II, even though the U.S. government put some Japanese American families in camps behind barbed-wire fences.