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Women’s Equality Day is celebrated in the United States on August 26 each year. From top left to right: Katie Scollan, Diane Pettersen, and Lt. Col. Courtney Gary each play an important role in accomplishing the PEO IEW&S and Army Acquisition missions, as well as creating a better work environment.
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army)
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Women’s Equality Day is celebrated in the United States on August 26 each year. It commemorates the addition of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution on August 26, 1920, which guaranteed women the right to vote.

The passage of the 19th Amendment was the first step towards shaping gender equality in today’s work force. In 1948, President Harry Truman also signed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act into law. It granted women permanent status in the Regular and Reserve forces of the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, as well as the newly-created Air Force.

In honor of Women’s Equality Day and women’s role in the U.S. military, three women in three different roles in the U.S. Army Program Executive Office – Intelligence Electronic Warfare & Sensors agreed to share their reflections on women’s progress and their role in service of the U.S. Army.

Lt. Col. Courtney Gary, Katie Scollan and Diane Pettersen are each leaders and public servants, successfully accomplishing their unique missions while contributing to the whole of Army Acquisition

Lt. Col. Courtney Gary

What’s your job title?

I'm a Product Manager for Data and Analytics, which is a primarily software intensive portfolio in PEO IEW&S.

What are the duties of your position and how does it impact PEO IEW&S?

I'm responsible for a portfolio of products in PEO IEW&S. My office and I are responsible for the acquisition and deployment of different software and hardware capabilities for the intelligence warfighting capability. The major benefits of what we're doing in our office is modernizing the intelligence enterprise.

Why do you serve?

This has evolved over the course of my career. Today I serve in honor of my parents who served and particularly my mother’s service and her sacrifices as a mom and woman in the Armed Forces during a time when it was still a nascent concept for women to serve in an equal capacity.

What does Women’s Equality Day mean to you?

Women’s equality is an arena I live in my whole life. It's not just a day - it's all the time.

What progress have you seen on gender equality in your life and work?

We're still really far behind as a society. The progress is being able to have an open dialogue about what we are still lacking and bringing awareness to those areas. At PEO IEW&S, we actually did a women’s off-site earlier this month with the women in my office to have an open dialogue. (In general) there are a lot of complexities within the workplace, from generational complexities, to gender complexities, to racial complexities.

How have you built confidence and/or resiliency over the course of your career?

In my professional career, I have been very fortunate to have a close circle of girl friends who are very confident in themselves. I remember thinking, “I want to be like them.”

Would you mind sharing a women’s empowerment moment that inspired you?

When I started in the acquisition community’s basic course, I met two other black women who were also moms - we're still friends today. Interacting with them was inspirational for me because we were all trying to succeed as moms and in our professional roles. They showed me what “shining” with other women should look like and we continue to demonstrate that through our friendship to other women we meet.

How can women develop their leadership skills?

Find mentors. One of the initiatives being developed by the PEO IEW&S Diversity and Inclusion Working Group is a mentorship program that looks to assist in that task through hosting leadership brown bag sessions and potential mentor-mentee matching program.

What advice would you give to young women entering PEO IEW&S?

Build your inner circle because that's what gets you through the hard times. We all can rise and shine together to show you don't have to be competitive or cutthroat. If we all band together, it's a lot harder to knock people down and we can get through tough times.

Anything else you want to add? What’s your Women’s Equality Day message?

The way that we’ll move forward is by being advocates for one another. This goes for women's equality, racial equality and just the DEI sphere in general. There are times where there isn't representation in the room, but you can still be an ally for those folks that are not represented, and speak them into the room. It's not just about women's equality.

Katherine (Katie) Scollan

What’s your job title?

Operations Specialist, Program Manager - Electronic Warfare & Cyber

What are the duties of your position and how does it impact PEO IEW&S?

I'm part of the Operations team and we provide day-to-day support to PM EW&C. It consists of behind the scenes work such as tracking policy, staffing documentation, supporting meetings, personnel processing, planning military ceremonies (i.e. Change of Responsibilities, retirements, and promotions.) I have a few roles in Ops that own, including tasker management, government procurement card holder and the Internal Control Administrator for the Risk Management and Internal Controls Program.

Why do you serve?

It’s an honor to serve as a civilian and to work for PM EW&C. The people I work with are passionate about what we do, fighting to secure our nation by providing cutting edge weapon systems in support of the Warfighter. It's a joy to work for this organization and I’m fortunate to be on this team.

What does Women’s Equality Day mean to you?

Women’s Equality Day is about a continuous fight. Women have laid the groundwork for this ongoing fight, not only in the workplace, but in all aspects of our lives. We have made headway and I'd love to say that we've met our goals, but if you listen to the news today or look within your community you can see we are not there yet.

What progress have you seen on gender equality in your life and work?

I’m fortunate to be in a place where I have equity and respect from my team members. In my current role, I do not have to fight for what I have, it is earned. All members of my team have the chance to work hard and are acknowledged for that work. I know this is not true across our nation, as many women are still fighting for what they deserve.

How have you built confidence and/or resiliency over the course of your career?

I am very fortunate to be surrounded with women that have grown in their careers, stepped into leadership roles, started their own businesses, and built families. I am continuously inspired by the strength and perseverance of the women around me. I learn from the women in my life, and they are the ones that have taught me to be confident and resilient through their own actions.

Would you mind sharing a women’s empowerment moment that inspired you?

The 2017 Women's March in Washington D.C. was inspiring to me. It was the first time I recognized that my generation and our children’s generation are still in a battle for basic rights. Seeing my peers and their children gathered in unity for a common cause was truly inspirational.

How can women develop their leadership skills?

Mentorship has been very important to me to develop leadership skills. I've had very strong role models in and out of the workplace. These people have taught me about inspiring others, believing in myself, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution and so many other tools that I employ daily. Finding someone to help you and that believes in you is a key element in developing leadership skills.

What advice would you give to young women entering PEO IEW&S?

PEO IEW&S is a great place to work. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to ask for help. Watch and listen to the people around you. Find the ones you admire and emulate their actions.

Anything else you want to add? What’s your Women’s Equality Day message?

Women and other minority groups continue to see challenges and inequities daily. We must continue to work in our communities to support each other, to highlight the inequities and stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Diane Pettersen

What’s your job title?

Branch Chief, Systems of Systems Engineering Division

What are the duties of your position and how does it impact PEO IEW&S?
I am the supervisor of the PEO IEW&S staff engineers and program protection leads. As a team we support the PMs, the other HQ Divisions, and Leadership in delivering capability. We focus on the engineering of a system from requirements, design, test, and production, while assessing the adherence to statutes and regulations as programs progress through milestones and other decision points.

Why do you serve?

It’s rewarding to know that what we deliver supports our country and our Soldiers.

What does Women’s Equality Day mean to you?

I have to admit, I never really took note of it or celebrated it before. It is something women seek every day. The day is in recognition of women obtaining the right to vote. What I found ironic is that I looked at my calendar on my wall and on my phone and in my pocketbook. It's not marked on any of them. Noting this, it questions the meaning even more.

What progress have you seen on gender equality in your life and work?

Being in the technical field I have worked with mostly men. It has been rare when there are more than a few women in a meeting. My past experience had been more of an atmosphere of questioning why you were there. Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to speak to women younger than me, in different technical fields, and found their experiences to be different. They received encouragement and acceptance. This shows change and progress in the acceptance of women in these fields. Though the number of women in meetings may still not equal the men, the women are now being recognized for the role they play.

How have you built confidence and/or resiliency over the course of your career?

I'm stubborn in that I believe there are no limitations on yourself. I try to prove myself through the quality of my work. Over time, people saw that. And I continue moving forward and finding opportunities to go to the next level.

Would you mind sharing a women’s empowerment moment that inspired you?

I've attended a couple of the Women in Defense Conferences and it’s empowering to see the women that have achieved at a high level. But I think any woman is strong and it’s been accumulation of the daily experiences that continue to inspire me.

How can women develop their leadership skills?

I think people have leadership roles in everything they do. For women, we’re just not labeling it from a work aspect. Specifically though, many women need to be able to better articulate and express themselves.

What advice would you give to young women entering PEO IEW&S?

I always feel no matter what you should be true to yourself. Sometimes people get a little jaded, but if you stay true to yourself and what you want, set your goals, and stay true with your conduct, you’ll succeed. Also, don't let other people tell you that you can't achieve your goals.

Anything else you want to add? What’s your Women’s Equality Day message?

Your story hasn't been written yet, so go for it.

The role of the Army has changed and evolved tremendously throughout the years. Female Soldiers and civilians are strong, patriotic individuals who have served as leaders, role models and mentors. Women continue to break barriers on the battlefields and in every environment where the military serves.

The Army continues to celebrate and commemorate the diversity of the Army and leverage and draw strength from the rich variety of personnel within the ranks by recognizing the critical role played by all in strengthening the nation’s presence around the world.