By Spc. Jeffrey LedesmaMay 10, 2007
CAMP TAJI, Iraq (Army News Service, May 10, 2007) - Women have been faced with obstacles throughout history and have fought back. They have swum against the current and stood against stereotypes and double standards to emerge as stronger, inspirational individuals.
Warrant Officer Staceyann McNish, who specializes in mechanics and welding as an allied trades technician with the 1st Cavalry Division's Company B, 115th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, has defied the norm by being the sole woman in her male-dominated military specialty.
"I have been doing the same job the entire time I have been in the Army, so I never looked at it as a big deal, but I know it's a major accomplishment," said Chief McNish, who began her Army career in the enlisted ranks. "When I first signed up for this, I never thought that I would be the only female warrant officer."
Not one to sit back and delegate, Chief McNish has gone outside the wire to repair leaking water pipes in the surrounding area.
"She doesn't sit back and point fingers, saying 'Hey, you do this; you do that.' She's actually hands-on," said Staff Sgt. Erik Babb, a Company A section sergeant. "Seeing someone perform the way she does really picks up the spirits of the troops."
Although she finds the men in her field supportive, Chief McNish said she does sometimes feel the need to work a little harder than the men - not for them, but for herself.
"The most rewarding work for me is being able to save lives by adding rocket-propelled grenade caging to vehicles or adding sniper netting on Humvees, or repairing a bridge," she said.
A single mother of 12-year-old Tatyana and 7-year-old Alex, Chief McNish said she lets her kids know there is nothing they cannot accomplish if they put their minds to it.
"I am able to juggle the career and being a mother because I have two wonderful kids and a good support system for them," Chief McNish said. She called her children "a beacon of strength" pulling her through the challenges of deployment and military life.
"I think that Chief McNish would do a great job no matter what she chose to do in life. She is very dedicated and goal-oriented," said Lt. Col. Tyler Osenbaugh, her battalion commander. "The fact that she chose an occupation that few female Soldiers serve in and became a warrant officer is how she chose to prove that she can do anything."
Her military achievements give her a feeling of pride, and of hope for those who follow in her footsteps.
"It is great to know that I have opened the door for other women, to know that it is OK to take on the challenge of being in a male-dominated job."
(Spc. Jeffrey Ledesma writes for the 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs.)