Today, equality of the sexes includes dying in combat.

In the current U.S. military, women fill battlefield roles alongside men like never before. Long gone are the days when female soldiers were nurses or were serving in some other behind-the-scenes capacity.

As a result, 24 female soldiers have died in Iraq, 15 from hostile fire — more female war dead than in any conflict since World War II (search).

Despite that reality, supporters of women in combat say it's a giant step for gender equality. Critics argue that it isn't a positive development but one that does more harm to society than good.

And while women now serve on combat ships, fly combat missions and conduct door-to-door searches through dangerous Iraqi neighborhoods, limits remain. They're still restricted from infantry units, armor and field artillery companies in wartime.

So while the combat doors have opened for women willing to die for their country just as their male counterparts do, the battle for complete gender equality remains a divisive conflict.

Click on the video link near the top of this story to watch a report by FOX News' Phil Keating.