William Beaumont Army Medical Center held a Women's Equality Day observance hosted by the Fort Bliss Warrior Transition Battalion at WBAMC's Clinical Assembly Room, Aug. 29.
The observance welcomed guest speaker, Mary Kipp, the first female president and Chief Executive Officer for the El Paso Electric and part of a unique population where only six percent of CEO positions are filled by women, according to a recent analysis of U.S. energy companies.
"Most of my life I grew up without electricity mostly running a generator so I was literally off the grid," said Kipp. "So I'm a big advocate for the value of electricity."
The rise to leading a company encompassing a 10,000 square-mile area across West Texas and Southern New Mexico didn't come easy for Kipp. Kipp's upbringing played a large part toward her resilience in the industry which portrays a salient gender gap.
"My dad taught me indirectly through his actions, the value of character and working hard," said Kipp. "More importantly, he didn't treat me any different than my brother. I didn't grow up with expectations that women should do anything differently than men."
Kipp shared her experiences in the male-dominated industry which singled her out because of her role as a mother within her family.
"It never occurred to me that I should have limitations on myself because I'm a woman," said Kipp.
Following Kipp's presentation, Col. Erik Rude, Commander, WBAMC, shared his experience as a Soldier and how an early encounter with a female supervisor shaped his outlook of women.
"When I was a major, my boss was the chief nurse," said Rude. "(She was) 5 feet tall, 100 pounds and in that one year that I worked for her I learned more in my Army career than I will ever learn.
"I had those same reservations," said Rude, regarding the stature of his supervisor, offering another point of view in the challenges women face.
The Women's Equality Day observance commemorates the addition of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which guaranteed women the right to vote.
Today women make up 16.4% of our Army and serve in every battalion in the Army with all military occupational specialties now open to anyone who qualifies and meets the specific standards of the job.
"I challenge you all to never accept anyone telling you, 'You can't do that because you're (different)'," said Rude.