Outside the United States, hundreds of thousands of women undertook combat roles during the Second World War. But America said no — the government believed the population simply wouldn’t accept it.
This meant that it was auxiliary roles that were undertaken by around 400,000 women in the states — auxiliary roles in uniform. Women worked as truck drivers, as mechanics, as electricians, as pilots — and as administrators.
About 4,500 women served as spies for the United States intelligence agency (aka Office of Strategic Services), including as undercover agents. And 19 million women took over working roles left unoccupied by men fighting overseas.
Only 543 American women were killed in the war — 16 by enemy fire.
This set of photographs, taken by Herbert Gehr for LIFE magazine, shows some of the many uniforms worn by women in World War II.