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Undercover Heroines: The Role of Women in the OSS

Alexander Pearson

Women played significant roles in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II. Aline Griffith’s memoir The Spy Wore Red: My Adventures as an Undercover Agent in World War II recounts her work in preparation for the southern invasion of France following D-day, known as Operation Dragoon. Other written accounts from other female agents indicate that the leadership in Washington wanted women to fulfill traditional gender roles. For example, William J. Donovan stated that women in the OSS should be “behind desks and filing cases in Washington, invisible apron strings of an organization which touched every theater of the war”. Evidence from official OSS records suggests that women were paid less relative to men. Women in the OSS were able to excel in roles which men may have not been suited for.