A Woman’s Place is…
By Jim Kuiken
Wherever the h€!! she says it is!
But - Women don’t belong in law enforcement. Women don’t belong in the military. Women don’t belong in politics. Etc…
Really? Pretty much every one of those (and many other “don’t belongs”) have been debunked, with women not only serving in those roles, but excelling – and in many cases, leading.
But they can’t shoot! (tell her that…just don’t stand in front of her when you say it).
Or if you think she’s too “Hollywood”, check out Gabby Franco or any of the other nationally ranked shooters…
They can’t lead effectively! Tell that to Carla Provos t, Chief of the US Border Patrol.
Well…, they certainly don’t belong in combat! Tell that to this 5 foot (something), barely over a 100 lbs. combat veteran of the Gulf (ODS), Afghanistan (OEF) and Iraq (OIF) wars, recipient of the Purple Heart, and Bronze Star (with combat V for valor) medals…retired Sergeant First Class Helyn Stowe (below). (don’t let her appearance fool you, this is a hardened professional soldier)
And there are so many other examples, I’d run out of space before I touched a fraction of a percent of them. CEO’s, Govt. leaders, Military leaders, combat veterans, etc., etc… There is practically no place where there aren’t women, not only doing the job, but doing it well, and in many cases, leading those efforts.
There are so many areas, I’d like to just focus on one for today…the Military. This is not a recent development here in the United States…but it is certainly something that is coming of age, with more and more opportunities opening up for our sisters-in-arms. These opportunities were built on the backs of a long line of service by women in our armed forces.
I was honored to have been invited to attend the Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium (JWLS 2019) last month in Washington DC, put on by the Sea Service Leadership Association (supported by Susan Davis International), which was attended by well over a thousand of these Leaders and servicewomen from every U.S. Service Branch, as well as multiple foreign nation military branches…more on that in a bit. Meanwhile;
It actually starts as far back as the Revolutionary War…with “Molly Pitcher”. Legend has it that “she” took her husband’s place when he was killed, picking up his musket, and actually being wounded in battle. That is not exactly true, and “Molly Pitcher” is actually a composite description of at least two women, who both took their husband’s place on cannon crews, in two different battles in two different places. One (Mary Hays) came to be known as “Sergeant Molly” (first woman to ever receive a warrant as a non-commissioned officer (NCO), by General George Washington himself), who at one point during the battle, “a British musket ball or cannonball flew between her legs and tore off the bottom of her skirt. She supposedly said something to the effect of, "Well, that could have been worse," and went back to loading the cannon.” The other was “Captain Molly” (Margaret Corbin), who was wounded in action, and became the first woman in the United States to receive a military pension.
And who can forget Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, M.D., who was a Prisoner of War, and was the first (and only, to date) woman to be awarded the Medal of Honor, for her actions in the Civil War? Ironically, “Walker is the only woman to receive the medal and one of only eight civilians to receive it. Her name was deleted from the Army Medal of Honor Roll in 1917 (along with over 900 other, male MOH recipients); however, it was restored in 1977”. She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 2000.
I’d love to catalogue all these courageous women, from all the wars and battles up to today, but there are just too many of them. My point is they’ve been around as long as this country has, and have been in the fight from day one – and they’re still out there on the battlefield today.
And don’t think they’re just out there in “admin”, motor transport, as cooks, or any of the traditional places they used to put females in the military. They’re all over, in almost every career field! There are female Army Rangers, Navy Submariners, Marine F-35 Pilots, Infantry small unit leaders (these are two Marines, one who was promoted out of her billet, and the other who is a ground Intelligence Marine, and qualified Sniper), as well as numerous Senior leaders (Generals, Admirals, etc…) – including Infantry Division leaders…all traditional male roles.
I know a lot of folks still don’t believe these women belong in these units…especially combat arms – and for sure, not in any of the “special operations” billets, like Army Rangers or Special Forces, etc – but you’d be surprised (I’ll tell you about that in a minute).
But first, let’s clear one thing up. Yeah, I’m a hard-core knuckle-dragging combat wounded 30-year Marine Sergeant Major (and Force Recon, to boot), but my personal opinion is that any legally qualified person who can pass all the qualifications (without changing them to allow lower standards or giving any special considerations, etc.) for a particular position, should be allowed to fill that position, unless or until they no longer meet the standards (just like anyone else).
So, as one of those “special operations” folks myself, I recognize some people excel so far above and beyond even those “special operators”, that I am in awe of them. Here is one such person – Chief Petty Officer Shannon Kent. She (along with many others) spent pretty much her whole career in special operations, with the SEALs, Special Forces and other agencies, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, etc…
And there are many more women in special operations, as well as most areas of the military.
Which is why I was so happy to have been invited to the 32nd Annual Joint Women’s leadership Symposium last month! (See, I told you I’d come back to this… ;) It was an action-packed invigorating event, with breakout sessions, great dinner speakers, fantastic panels, networking, and just general good camaraderie!
I highly recommend that you check in with the Sea Service Leadership Association, and sign up for next year’s event to join with and support all your sisters-in-arms!
It only gets bigger and better every year.