“Unwelcomed Soldiers Invading a Fraternity”: Breaking Gender Barriers in the United States Military

National History Day Video
Process
Annotated Bibliography

Jessie Henderson
National History Day

National History Day Video

Process

Before researching this topic, I brainstormed about topics which matched the theme. After a family friend suggested naval pilot Captain Rosemary Mariner, I did some preliminary reading. With an interest in military history and an unfamiliarity of this topic, I became interested in her life and legacy. After much consideration, I decided that Captain Rosemary Mariner’s path-forging career and diligent work to break the gender barriers in the United States military was the best fit for the theme and had the most significant influences, especially for today.

I focused my research on online articles and websites. At the Cleveland Public Library I discovered several informative books. One of the most useful, Tailspin: Women at War in the Wake of Tailhook by Jean Zimmerman, gave detailed information about Mariner’s beginnings, such as her early inspirations and people that supported her. The author discussed her efforts to get the ban on women in combat lifted. My school provided subscriptions to Newspapers.com and the New York Times with access to its archives. The subscriptions provided access to multiple primary source newspaper articles showing how widespread Mariner’s barrier-breaking achievements were. I interviewed several people living from coast to coast, including Commander Tommy Mariner who also provided many helpful resources. Due to Mariner’s recent death, there was a significant amount of sources online so much of my research was conducted using the Internet. I focused on the view that Captain Rosemary Mariner broke many barriers in female aviation, paving the way for others to follow in the military.

Since this was my third experience making a documentary, I chose this category in order to utilize my skills, and I felt it would best portray the events. I researched, scripted, and compiled the documentary using Adobe Premiere Pro CC and recorded narration using Voice Recorder. I combined the audio and video files that fit my commentary. Finally, I made edits. After the preceding competitions, I revised multiple aspects of my project.

Captain Mariner broke gender barriers in the United States military by surpassing expectations as a naval aviator and achieving many firsts for service women. She became a powerful advocate for military women’s rights, opening the doors for equality in combat and other areas. After becoming one of the first female naval aviators, Captain Mariner also became the first woman to fly a military jet, be assigned to an aircraft carrier, and command a squadron. She advocated for women’s rights to fight in combat by writing newspaper articles, creating a network of civilian and military supporters, and taking part in speaking engagements and presidential commission hearings. This resulted in several policy changes, such as a 1978 mandate that allowed women to serve on non-combatant ships and the resolution in 1993 that lifted the ban on women in combat.  Her efforts, along with others, eventually led to the combat ban being fully lifted in 2013.  At her funeral she was honored with the first all-female flyover, the Missing Man Formation, breaking one more military gender barrier.

Annotated Bibliography

Click HERE to download the Annotated Bibliography

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