Dissertation Defense – Dackri Davis
Navigating Discrimination: A Historical Examination of Women’s Experiences of Discrimination and Triumph Within the United States Military and High Educational Institutions
by Dackri Dionne Davis
Amelia Earhart opened the skies for many female pilots in the 1930s. It was because of her that many young women followed their reverie to become a pilot. This dream led many to answer the call when the United States Army Air Force needed ferrying pilots when World War II began. Female aviators were contracted as civil service personnel and placed in different units to ferry planes across the country and to tow targets during live ammunition practice by combat soldiers. These units were later combined to form the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs). The anomaly of the WASPs was that they were the only women’s unit who joined a men’s only division of the Army, though they were not considered to be full military personnel.
Never before had the United States government allowed female pilots to participate in the military. While providing aerial support services for the United States Air Force, the WASPs were not granted military benefits, nor were they considered partof the military, despite being required to follow all military protocols. In 1977, after Congressional hearings, the WASPs were finally granted full military honors. This dissertation examines the experiences of those women within the context of the institutions of higher education where they were trained and in terms of the varied forms of discrimination that they faced, highlighting the ways in which they navigated those challenges.