SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (March 30, 2023) – The Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, in concert with the U.S. Transportation Command, hosted a Women’s History Month panel here and virtually Wednesday as part of the month-long celebration of women’s achievements and contributions to our nation.
Five influential women from both commands, who have made and continue to make a difference in the military, shared their stories with more than 150 live and virtual attendees. The panel members were, from USTRANSCOM, U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Laura Lenderman, director of Operations; and from SDDC, Aviana Gutierez, 599th Transportation Command deputy to the commander; Brenda Short, deputy director for Resource Management; Debbie Harvey-Davis, deputy director for Strategy and Plans; and Brianna Schneider, human resource specialist.
“Women’s History Month is a time to reflect on the past, remember and honor those women who came before us,” said Short. “This is also a time that I like to reflect on what I can do for the women who come after me.”
Women have played vital roles in our Army since the Revolutionary War, overcoming obstacles, breaking barriers, and paving the way for women today. The panel members extended their gratitude for the contributions of women who came before them and paved the way for women today.
“It's unfortunate that we're still breaking barriers and glass ceilings, some of that journey continues,” said Harvey-Davis. “One of the things that I'd like to see in my lifetime is the first woman on the Joint Chiefs of staff, the first woman to become NFL commissioner, the first woman to be the CEO for a major social media platform. Those things are not unattainable. And the biggest one that I'd like to see is the first woman elected President of the United States.”
Today, women serve in every career field in the Army, and over a thousand of those women are serving within the active component Infantry, Armor, and Field Artillery branches. In addition, women make up 35 percent of the Department of the Army civilian workforce.
“I can remember when I was first promoted to the GS-12 level in Okinawa and being the only female who was at the 12 level,” said Gutierrez. “Now when I sit in meetings, I see so much more female representation. However, the distribution of leaders is not equal. So, we've got work to do, but we’re doing it.”
The women highlighted the importance of supporting and recognizing each other. Lenderman shared that having those around you who support you and your decisions is vital to navigating the challenges that come with a successful career and life.
“Work through those moments in your life,” said Lenderman. “If this is your path, your path will still unfold for you that is unique and wonderful, and it won’t compare to anyone else’s, but it will add to the life you are creating for yourself.”
They also highlighted the importance of both formal and informal mentoring, and Gutierrez said that “the best leaders are those who help others to become leaders.”
Schneider, the junior member of the panel, shared some valuable guiding principles that could apply to any stage of one’s career. She said, “Build relationships, don’t fear failure and keep learning.”
Women’s History Month stands as a reminder of the strength the Army has and will gain through having a high-quality and diverse all-volunteer force that comes from ensuring that all members, military and civilian, have opportunities to reach their full potential.