Whicker celebrates Women’s History Month with JMC’s workforce

By Matthew Wheaton, Joint Munitions Command, Public and Congressional AffairsApril 2, 2024

Whicker celebrates Women’s History Month with JMC’s workforce
Marion Whicker, the executive deputy to the commanding general at the U.S. Army Materiel Command, revealed what Women’s History Month means during a recent visit to the Joint Munitions Command’s headquarters at the Rock Island Arsenal. (Photo Credit: Shawn Eldridge) VIEW ORIGINAL

The month of March spans 744 hours and each one of them encompass National Women’s History Month.

In 1987, Congress designated March as National Women's History Month indefinitely. Each year, a special presidential proclamation commemorates their remarkable achievements, including those in the armed forces.

Marion Whicker, the executive deputy to the commanding general at the U.S. Army Materiel Command, recently reflected on what the holiday means, and she discussed other women who have had an impact within the Army, while visiting the Joint Munitions Command’s headquarters at the Rock Island Arsenal.

Whicker began her career path as a Tank-automotive and Armaments Command intern. Whicker's consistent dedication to fulfilling the Army's needs resulted in her elevation to become a Tier III Senior Executive, comparable to a three-star flag officer.

“The Department of Defense and the U.S. Army celebrates Women’s History Month every March, and we acknowledge pioneering women both past and present. This year’s theme is ‘women who have made great achievements,’” Whicker said. “This month, we recognize women who have shattered barriers, defied expectations, and transformed landscape into progress and that’s not an easy thing.

“There are many women who have paved the way for us - myself included,” Whicker added. “The Army has always been out in the forefront of the rest of society.”

While women have served in the U.S. military throughout its history, it wasn't until World War I that policy formally permitted their involvement in non-combat roles. During World War II, approximately 34,000 women served in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. From just 1% in 1971 to 8.5% a decade later; and today, women make up around 18% of the active-duty force. Approximately 33% of Department of Defense Civilians are women.

JMC has had a diverse set of military leaders, including three women military Commanders — Kristin French, Heidi Hoyle, and Michelle Letcher. They devoted themselves to advanced education, their military careers through deployments and leadership assignments, and their Families. Three of JMC’s Command Sergeant Majors have also been women, as have six of the command’s Civilian Senior Executive Service Leaders.

“JMC has a history of women leaders, and what a tremendous legacy,” Whicker said. “These women have continued to pave the way – all women continue to pave the way.”

Women make up 39% of JMC’s workforce at its headquarters and 21% of the workforce across its enterprise.

“As a female leader within JMC, what I can tell you is I have never faced the idea that I can’t,” said Katie Crotty, who is the command’s deputy chief of staff for resource management and has been a Civilian employee at JMC for 20 years.

Whicker focused on just a few of the women who have made a difference within JMC and the Army as a whole, and there are many untold stories of women who have taken on mission-critical assignments and advanced as leaders in the military, engineering, mathematics, research, science, technology, and beyond.

Whicker said she is appreciative of those trailblazers, and she hopes more women follow in her footsteps. Whicker enjoys sharing the lessons she’s learned in her nearly 40-year Civilian career.

“When you have opportunities to be in the room, whether you’re a male or female, whether you’re a Civilian or in the military, use those opportunities to demonstrate what you have,” Whicker said. "Be present in the moment, be happy to be at the table, and be prepared to engage and be a part of the conversation.

“Be brave and push back,” Whicker added. “Don’t let someone steal your joy.”