Sailors of varying ranks and years of experience, from a range of commands around the region, gathered at Naval Station Everett (NSE) for NSE’s 2019 Women’s Symposium, May 10.
The goal of the symposium was to provide female Sailors with career guidance and to provide others in the command the opportunity to gain a better understanding of how to support them.
“Males in the service have a plethora of examples to look to when they think about the Navy as a career, and females just have fewer of those examples available to them,” said Lt. Cmdr. Arlene Crews, training and readiness officer for commander, Destroyer Squadron 9, and one of the organizers of the symposium. “Having these symposiums, with a female master chief or admiral present, motivates other women to say ‘Hey, maybe I can achieve that someday.’”
Rear Adm. Yvette Davids, commander, Carrier Strike Group 11, was the keynote speaker, and recounted her own experiences about the strides the Navy has taken in terms of career opportunities for women.
“I’ve always understood that by my actions, and those of my sister Sailors, and those enlightened leaders and mentors who were out there watching over us and paving the way, that we were able to make incredible changes to the military,” said Davids.
Afterward, the floor was open for the Sailors in attendance to ask questions to a panel of female leaders, both enlisted and officer, and including Rear Adm. Davids, about their experiences in the Navy and to share words of advice.
“The amount of collective leadership experience that we were able to ask questions to and hear from today was really valuable,” said Sonar Technician 3rd (Surface) Class Natalia Durdin, from Colorado Springs, Colo., “I hope that someday I can be that kind of leader and I can have that kind of experience behind me.”
The final event of the symposium, attendees split into peer group breakout sessions for a more personal discussion environment.
“Being able to talk to women who have done it before us and get that understanding that our emotions and how we feel about being women in the military is not unique and that we’re not alone is amazing,” said Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Ember Martin-Furlong, from Wichita, Kan., “Being able to see women in positions of higher rank shows you that you can do it, that you’re not trying to blaze a trail that’s not been there before, and that there are people that will give you the leadership and guidance to make your own way.”