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Commentary - Women’s History Month: achieving new heights

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Melissa Perry
  • 27th Special Operations Wing Equal Opportunity
Back in 1980, the recognition of women was observed as National Women’s History Week, typically during the second week of March. It was not until 1986 that the National Women’s History Project had petitioned congress and was successful in expanding the celebration to the entire month. The Department of Defense observes Women’s History Month as a time to celebrate, recognize and highlight the contributions of the women who have had significant influence in history and present-day women’s rights.

Consistent with this year’s theme, “Honoring Trailblazing Women who have Paved the Way for Future Generations,” women in service have played many roles, which have helped strengthen our nation. Women continued to overcome these obstacles over the past few decades, leading to distinctive accomplishments and success in the labor and business worlds, and also overcoming barriers to serve in the military and defend our nation.

The following leaders are being featured by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute as examples of women who’ve had significant impact in the military and government sector:

• Dr. Sheila E. Widnall, 18th Secretary of the Air Force. In 1993, she was the first female to hold the SECAF position. Widnall was responsible for the Air Force readiness to accomplish its missions who also served on the U.S. Air Force Academy Board of Visitors.

• Command Master Chief (Ret.) Evelyn Banks became the first female Command Master Chief of U.S. Navy Recruiting Command in 2003. Among her many accomplishments, Banks was also the first female Command Master Chief of the U.S. Naval Academy in 2007.

• Ms. Tracey L. Pinson was the Director for the Office of Small Businesses Programs, Secretary of the Army in 1995. Upon her retirement in 2014, she was named the highest-ranking female civilian in the Army’s acquisition career field.

• Marine Brig. Gen. Lori Reynolds, for the first time in its 96 year history, she was the first woman to take command of the Marine Corps training depot at South Carolina’s Parris Island in 2011. Reynolds received her second star on Aug. 5th, 2016, and now serves as the Commanding General of Marine Corps Cyber Command at Ft. Meade, Md.

This group of diverse and historical women all played a vital role in making a difference, challenging the structures and stereotypes of society.

As we recognize women’s history this month, it’s important to remember that history has taught us about who we are, where we came from and has proven that you can achieve what you set your mind to. Together we can blaze the paths we choose to take in life and achieve new heights.