Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones delivers a virtual briefing at the Air Force Women’s Air and Space Power Symposium from her office at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., 10 March 2022. Jones covered topics such as policy review and how Airmen and Guardians can address change at any level. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Elora J. McCutcheon.
Breaking down barriers: 2nd DAF Women’s Air and Space Symposium focuses on change
by Staff Sgt. Elora J. McCutcheon,
Air Force Public Affairs Secretary
ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) — The Women’s Initiative team and Secretary of the Air Force Office of Diversity and Inclusion hosted the second annual Air and Space Power Symposium Women of the Air Force from March 8 to 10.
Hundreds of people attended the three-day virtual symposium to hear a variety of panelists highlight the importance of equality for women in the military and discuss how leaders, regardless of gender, can break the barriers to pursuing positive change at all levels in the air and space forces.
“Our department requires diverse styles of leadership to help solve the complex issues facing our Airmen and Custodians today,” Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said. “Representation matters. Having female leaders around the table is important. As your Secretary of the Air Force, I recognize that we still have work to do.
Kendall opened the symposium with a message to attendees that encouraged them to ask themselves why women’s equality is not just a conversation for women, but for leaders to ensure the force is as diverse. and reflects the society it serves.
“As we look forward to the next 75 years of the Air Department, we need to make sure we have the brightest young Americans we can have,” Kendall explained. “To do this, we must ensure that everyone who serves, and everyone who wants to serve, in the best air force in the world and the only space force in the world has the opportunity to do so. We need to create an environment where all who serve feel needed, their service is equal to that of those around them, and their families are cared for.
Panelists from air and space forces joined the conversation that extended beyond gender equality – encompassing topics such as balancing family and service, practicing resilience and becoming a leader.
Keynote Speakers Chief Staff Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass and Space Force Chief Master Sergeant Roger A. Towberman particularly emphasized the importance of being a multi-faceted leader for the good of the Airmen and Custodians who report to the Air Force. custody of a non-commissioned officer.
“Understand how critical you are,” Towberman stressed to listeners. “You have the opportunity to change someone’s life and you are obligated to do so. If we succeed at the first level supervisor, we change the world. No one gets to 20, 30 or 40 without first getting to four.
After echoing Towberman’s sentiments for leaders, Bass went on to explain how the Department of the Air Force seeks to develop a healthy force of leaders who will be prepared to take on complex responsibilities as they progress. at all levels.
She urged, “Before our Airmen [and Guardians] becoming NCOs and dealing with the responsibilities we expect of them at that rank, how do we set the line to help them grow and ensure they are ready to succeed? »
The third day of the symposium featured a keynote address by Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones and included memoirs on women in science, technology, engineering and math, life on the front lines, broken ceilings and shifting policies.
Jones took the time to answer questions from the audience following her remarks on the Department’s gender-specific policy review, recent clarifications regarding flying while pregnant, and what Airmen and Guardians can actively do. to meet what the Department of the Air Force still needs to change.
“Just because it doesn’t affect you doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect the unit,” Jones replied to the audience when asked how to change policies faster. “Our leaders at all levels must focus on being a good ally and improving the environment in which they work to ensure we recruit and retain the best talent our country has to offer.”
Jones’ message echoed the recurring theme of all speakers throughout the symposium – current and future leaders must make a change for the better to break down barriers and evolve the Department of the Air Force. into a force as diverse and thoughtful as the society it serves.
Similar to Jones’ idea, Lt. Gen. Nina Armagno, Director of the Space Force Staff, described the national security imperative to create an environment where all can thrive, regardless of regardless of their age, race, sexuality or gender.
Culture is the responsibility of the leader,” she stressed. “Create the environment you want and you will get the results you need to advance the mission.”
In describing the value of events such as the Women’s Air and Space Power Symposium and groups such as the Women’s Initiative Team, Air Force Vice Chief of Staff General David Allvin describes three areas where they help the service achieve meaningful and lasting change:
“First and foremost, we need to celebrate the incredible accomplishments of women in our air and space forces, and this forum does just that,” Allvin began. “We need to educate about the barriers that exist and figure out how we can help remove those barriers. Then we need to commit to action and make sure we can deliver on our commitments. The national security events unfolding before us show us the consequences of failing to commit to action. We know what is at stake. We know that we have the opportunity to break down these barriers, by continuing to move towards a more diverse and inclusive workforce in our Air Force, because our country does not need nothing less.
For those wishing to watch the symposium, recordings of the panels and dissertations are available at the Women’s Air and Space Power Symposium Facebook page.
Airmen or Guardians interested in getting involved with the Barrier Analysis Working Group should contact the Air Force Office of Diversity and Inclusion Secretary at [email protected] us.af.mil.
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