Lifestyle - Women

Before, During, & After

DoD Honors Women’s Achievements

By Carmen L. Gleason
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 2007 – The Defense Department observed Women’s History Month and honored the women filling its ranks in a ceremony today at Arlington National Cemetery.

In an observance at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial, women who have risen through the ranks to become leaders in federal service encouraged others to do same.

The event also recognized military and civilian women who have made great strides in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and who were selected by their service branches for their outstanding achievements.

“This year’s observance continues to acknowledge the legacies and extraordinary accomplishments of many great trailblazers who are leading the way to ensure women are granted full participation in America and the world,” Gail McGinn said as she opened the ceremony. McGinn is deputy undersecretary of defense for plans.

McGinn said showcasing to America the many talents of DoD women can help young people can set goals and fulfill endless possibilities.

She compared the opportunities of American women to those in countries like Afghanistan, where women had been barred from classrooms and weren’t allowed to advance in society.

“Being the largest employer in the United States brings a great responsibility to the Department of Defense,” McGinn said. “As global competitors, we are committed to carrying the torch for advancing the fundamental values of liberty and equal opportunity for all.”

Women within the department have been given the opportunity to gain responsibility very quickly and have therefore made their mark on the United States, she said.

Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught, the most highly decorated woman in U.S. military history and the woman who spearheaded the campaign for the women’s memorial at Arlington, acted as the event’s host.

Women were raising their right hands to serve in the military long before they were even given the right to vote, Vaught said. Their loyal service to the country helped to secure that right, which came to pass with the ratification of the Women’s Suffrage Act of 1918, she said.

Vaught shared with the audience how a few military women have been on the forefront to help change laws that affected women throughout the nation. From segregation, to equal military benefits, to a change in restrictions for women to serve on Navy ships, Vaught said those women were making it easier for those who followed.

“We now have women serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries,” the retired general said. “They are doing things that have never been done before. But there is a price to it; we have lost 70 women there, and we honor their service.”

Former DoD employee Daliza Salas, who now serves as the director of human resources at the Labor Department, told the audience about the great strides being made by women throughout the country.

She cited increasing statistics on the number of women who are graduating from college, owning their own businesses, taking management positions and narrowing the earnings gap between men.

Salas also pointed out that with an upcoming wave of projected retirements within the federal service, many women will have a better opportunity to advance through the senior ranks of government than ever before.

“I hope the women in the audience will recognize the opportunity of change in our country,” Salas said. “No matter what your goals are, you can achieve your dreams. It’s important to stay focused and make sure you take steps towards getting closer to them.”

She encouraged the young people in the audience to be inspired by the achievements of the award winners who were recognized at the ceremony.

The 11 women were selected by their respective service branch as role models in fields that aren’t normally populated by women, such as geology, toxicology, and nuclear physics.

Coast Guard Cadet 2nd Class DeCarol Davis was honored for her efforts in promoting the science, math, engineering and technology fields to young girls and minority youth.

Working with students at Winthrop Elementary School in New London, Conn., Davis wrote and directed a play that incorporated engineering applications and was designed to inspire the children to follow their dreams. It was so successful that an encore performance has been requested during an upcoming regional youth competition.

“I am humbled to receive this award,” Davis said. “I also find it interesting to get awarded for inspiring children, when it was the children who inspired me – to dream and to live.”

Related Sites:
Women in Military Service for America Memorial


Women Holding Their Own in DoD Work Force

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March  2006 Women throughout history would be proud of what today's community of DoD women has accomplished, a top DoD personnel official said.

DoD employees are among the nation's finest visionaries, dream makers and community builders, which coincides with this year's Women's History Month theme, "Women: Builders of Communities and Dreams," Marilee Fitzgerald, principal director of the Office of the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Civilian Personnel Policy, said during the DoD observance of Women's History Month at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial here.

"Your distinguished military careers and exceptional federal civilian service are an inspiration to men and women around the nation," she said.

That's particularly true, Fitzgerald said, for those "who are making incalculable sacrifices to preserve freedom and the democratic principles that underpin a peaceful, productive and dignified society."

She said the ceremony honored "the spirit of possibility and the hope set in motion by generations of women in their creation of communities and encouragement of dreams."

"These women worked to ensure an independent nation; they planted the fields, taught the children, wrote the books, gave the speeches, and insisted on an end to inequality," she said. "And they demanded liberty, the right to organize, the right to vote, and the right to share equally in the pursuit of happiness.

"These are the women who stepped forward when needed," she added.

Fitzgerald said women of the past would be proud of women like retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught, the driving force behind building the women's memorial. "Her vision to build this memorial will not only ensure that women are forever recognized as a critical and historic part of the woven tapestry of military service, but will also inspire others to dream and realize new possibilities for generations to come," Fitzgerald noted.

Women have come a long way in government since 1933, when then President Franklin Delano Roosevelt -- at the strong urging of his wife, Eleanor -- appointed the first female cabinet secretary, Frances Perkins, as secretary of labor. Perkins was the champion for the national women's rights cause "Equal Pay for Equal Work," Fitzgerald noted.

Fitzgerald said the hopes and dreams of women in DoD are realized every day by the contributions of more than 220,000 women serving in civilian positions. This number represents more than a third of the total DoD workforce and more than 200,000 women serving on active duty. "The great news in these numbers is that women are given the opportunity to achieve their dreams - and they are achieving 'firsts' in many areas," Fitzgerald said.

DoD women serve in a remarkable array of positions -- teachers, firefighters, human resource specialists, air traffic controllers, tugboat captains, information technology specialists, scientists, engineers, prison guards, weapons system designers, and secretaries such as deputy undersecretaries, Fitzgerald said.

For instance, Fitzgerald said, they include women like Patricia Bradshaw, undersecretary of defense for civilian personnel policy, who presides over the personnel practices and policies for more than 700,000 DoD civilians. They also include women like Tina Jonas, undersecretary of defense (comptroller) and chief financial officer, who oversees DoD financial management activities including a budget of more than $400 billion dollars.

Fitzgerald also pointed to Sheila Widnall's appointment as secretary of the Air Force in 1993, which made her the first woman to serve as an armed forces secretary. In 1998, Lillian Fishburne became the first African-American woman to put on the Navy star to become a rear admiral.

In June 2005, Sgt. Ashley Pashley, of the Army Reserve's 40th Civil Affairs Battalion, was one of five soldiers awarded the first Combat Action Badge for her action during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"Last month, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld appointed Leslye A. Arsht as the deputy undersecretary of defense for military community and family policy," Fitzgerald noted. "Leslye is one of the first DoD civilian woman to have served as part of the Iraq reconstruction effort. She was the senior advisor to Iraq 's Ministry of Education. In June 2005, Ms. Arsht was chosen to receive the Good Housekeeping Award for Women in the Government."

Noting that the percentage of woman serving in non- traditional occupations since 1995 has increased, Fitzgerald said, "In 2005, the ratio of female scientists has proportionally grown by about 20 percent and the ratio of engineers by about 45 percent since 1995."

The percentage of women in grades GS-13 through senior executive service increased from 18.9 percent in 1995 to 28.1 percent in 2005. The ranks of the women in the SES positions grew by 62 percent since 1995, and women now hold 20 percent of DoD SES positions, Fitzgerald said.

"These achievements are possible because as a community we are better educated," Fitzgerald noted. "DoD civilian women have demonstrated an increase in the percentage of those holding bachelor's degrees or higher from 23 percent in 1995 to 32 percent in 2005, with 62 percent more women possessing masters degrees or above in 2005."

However, Fitzgerald said, even though those numbers are encouraging and women's accomplishments in DoD are beacons for others to follow, there's much work to be done. "Women are underrepresented in science, technology, mathematics and engineering fields," she noted. "This challenge is exacerbated by the national shortage of women studying these disciplines at the university level and making careers in related fields."

And women still are underrepresented in DoD's senior executive service. Rumsfeld has asked his leadership team to "get more energy" into increasing the representation of women and minorities in general and flag officer positions and in senior executive service positions, Fitzgerald said.

"Today," she told the audience, "we celebrate and give thanks for the community of DoD women who have and are forging paths and accomplished firsts for those of us in this room and for our daughters to come. We must be mindful that as a community of DoD women we are but one part of a greater whole necessary to accomplish the DoD mission. We're part of the total force, which is comprised of men and women in the military and civilian work force."

Marilee Fitzgerald

Related Site:
Women in Military Service for America Memorial

Related Article:
Women Climbing Success Ladder in Military, DoD Civilian Work Force

Military Undergoing 'Evolutionary Change' for Women in Service

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan.  2005 -- When Carol Mutter joined the Marine Corps nearly 40 years ago, women were not allowed to be admirals or generals and could make up no more than two percent of the U.S. armed forces.

The military changed a lot during her 31 years of service.

"The roles that women … fulfill in the military have changed (and) evolved, and women have always been up to the task," she said today during an interview with the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service. "They've always responded very, very well to new roles, new challenges, and so on. There've been a lot of changes. The theme I think has been evolutionary change (for women) in my time in the military."

Since she retired as a three-star general in 1999, Mutter has done even more to help advance women's role in the uniformed services. Since 2002, Mutter has been chairwoman of the Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services. In this role, she chairs a group that studies issues pertaining to women and families and makes annual recommendations to DoD.

In 2004, DACOWITS members conducted 70 focus groups during visits to 12 military installations. Their recommendations, based on findings from these focus groups, surveys and studies, focus on three main areas: retention -- particularly of female officers with families, deployment issues and sexual assaults.

Regarding retention, Mutter explained, the committee found that the services are retaining women officers with families at lower rates than other groups. The numbers vary among services and components, but the underlying theme with these officers not staying in the military is a problem with "work-life balance," she said.

In 2005, the committee will delve further into this issue and look more closely at specific items under the umbrella of work-life balance. Specific issues for the committee to explore in 2005 might include more flexible childcare options and ways to add flexibility to career paths. For instance, Mutter said, the Coast Guard offers certain members a two-year sabbatical to deal with family issues such as having a child or caring for an elderly parent.

Issues pertaining to deployments include ensuring military members have sufficient time to spend with their families before deployment, plenty of opportunities for communicating with families during deployment, and enough time to readjust to being part of a family after deployment. "Communication is extraordinarily important," Mutter said.

She said that the committee recommended that 100 percent of redeploying servicemembers undergo screening to identify possible readjustment problems after every deployment. "It needs to be everybody -- from private to general," she said. "Because if there are any exceptions, then people will opt out and there will be people who really need help who will not get that help."

Mutter lauded the work of DoD's Task Force on Care for Victims of Sexual Assaults. In mid-2004, that task force released a 99-page report that included recommendations to help prevent sexual assaults within the military and provide the best possible care for victims.

"We applaud those recommendations and the actions that the department has taken since then to move toward implementing many of the recommendations," Mutter said. "There's a lot of good work that has been done."

Still, she added, more could -- and should -- be done to prevent sexual assaults within the military and to punish those who commit such crimes. Mutter said her committee recommended that all agencies within DoD agree to a single definition of sexual assault to ease reporting and data collecting and that the department issue a firm, clearly worded zero-tolerance policy on sexual assault.

"Zero tolerance against sexual assault needs to be a matter of formalized policy from the leadership in the Department of Defense and at every level of command all the way down to the lowest level," she said.

DoD also needs to do a better job of ensuring confidentiality to victims, Mutter said, adding that this will ensure more people report crimes against them.

The general said the fundamental changes she's seen regarding women serving in the military have come slowly, but she thinks this is the right way to go about fundamental changes.

"It's been very much an evolutionary process," she said. "And I believe evolutionary change is more long-lasting change. If you can change it quick then it can be unchanged real quick, too. So if you do it in steps and make sure the steps are all implemented in a way that makes sense then it will be long-lasting change."

DACOWITS Chairwoman Carol Mutter

Related Site:
Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services


Women in the Military

Armed Forces

Women in General

National Organization for Women  
Pertains to women in the military and issues directly impacting their work force.


Military Careers for Women


Women's Financial Accounting
All the financial tools on one web site.


Military Women Humor





Women's Fitness

SLINGZ is a fast and easy way to carry your skateboard and free up your hands for carrying, climbing or whatever else you need to get done!
  Find fitness and weight training equipment, workout apparel and information, all carefully selected with women's fitness in mind.

Women's Health

Military Women's Health Site

Before, During, & After


National Women's History
Committed to providing education and information to recognize women's contributions to society.



© Partnership Marketing Inc.
No Endorsement Implied