Date of Graduation

Spring 2009


Master of Arts in History



Committee Chair

William Piston


aviation, military, media, world war two, women, air force service pilots

Subject Categories



During World War II, the United States Air Force submitted women pilots for the first time into a program called the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). These women pilots faced gendered discrimination and reactions from Air Force men and American society. Many assumed women were physically, emotionally, and intellectually inferior to male pilots. The WASP program concluded in 1944 and women were not admitted into the Air Force again until the late 1970s. This study focuses on an analysis of the media's coverage of these women pilots during the war. The War Department Bureau of Public Relations, Air Force officials, and WASP Director Jacqueline Cochran worked to control the media's access to the WASP program. As a result of public fears surrounding military women, Cochran assigned specific rules and guidelines to protect the pure, feminine image of the WASP. Overall, media outlets portrayed the WASP as glamorized, feminine aviators. Issues largely ignored by the media, including the dangerous roles assigned the WASP, flying demonstrations to prove the safety of certain aircraft to men, and the women's outstanding physical, mental, and emotional record, illuminate the gendered relations of the period.


© Sarah Elizabeth Myers

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