Sgt. 1st Class Reginald L. Douglass
Installation Equal Opportunity Advisor
“Weak, emotional, insignificant, hormonal and whiney,” are words stereotypically used to describe women. If one subscribes to this thought to try to describe a woman then they are at a disadvantage before they ever start and here is why.
History tells us that women throughout the ages have overcome some incredible hurdles and odds. This year’s Women’s History Observance will focus on the theme, “Weaving the stories of women’s lives”.
It could just be me, but the words I first quoted above have nothing to do with the theme of this year’s observance, yet ask yourself what you picture with terms such as architect, molecular biologist, machinist or doctor? Have you ever pictured the individual who invented Kevlar? The inventers name is Stephanie Kwolek. In September 1944, Women’s Army Corps (WAC) awarded its first Legion of Merit to a female, Lt. Col. Westram B. Bryre for her outstanding service in South Africa. Women have shown character and courage since our country’s inception, here are just a few of them.
Elizabeth Blackwell was the first American woman to earn a medical degree. She attended Geneva College in New York, after being rejected by the major medical schools due to her gender. Dr. Blackwell later founded a medical college to train women physicians.
Eleanor Roosevelt, a champion of human rights, strove to improve the various causes of women as well as those of African-American people, the poor, and the unemployed. She joined the League of Women Voters, worked with trade union women, and pressed for womens’ causes within the Democratic Party. After her husband’s death in 1945, President Truman named her U.S. Delegate to the United Nations. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948, largely due to her work, and the delegates rose in a standing ovation for her.
Tammy Duckworth was a member of Congress and an Iraq War Veteran. Tammy Duckworth, U.S. Representative from Illinois, is an Iraq War veteran and former Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs. In 2014, she became the first disabled woman elected to serve in the House of Representatives. Duckworth has a strong record advocating and implementing improvements to veteran’s services. In 2004, she was deployed to Iraq as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot. She was one of the first Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom until her helicopter was hit by an RPG on Nov. 12, 2004. She lost her legs and partial use of her right arm in the explosion and was subsequently awarded a Purple Heart for her combat injuries.
Vice Admiral (VADM) Michelle Janine Howard is the first African-American woman to achieve the three star rank in the U.S. Armed Forces as well as being the first African-American woman to command a U.S. Naval ship, the USS Rushmore. VADM Howard is also the first female graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy selected for admiral.
These are just a small sampling of the stories you can find about women who have achieved great things through their own tenacity and perseverance. This is not to say that these women are exceptions, quite the contrary, they are in fact the stories of these women’s lives. I for one am in awe of some of the stories I have found and at the same time ashamed of the initial thoughts I used to have when I heard people say, “the doctor will be in shortly”, “the service technician says …” or “the chairman will be in shortly.” Should our initial expectation be to see a male come through the door? If so, then maybe, there is still more evaluating to be done; then again it could just be me.