As we have given a whole new meaning to the phrase March Madness in 2020, I wanted to take just a moment in my first Executive Director Blog to celebrate Women’s History Month before the calendar completely gets away from me. Especially in March, we honor the achievements of women and remember the hurdles they have leapt to contribute boldly to the defense of our country.
Women have blazed a steady trail toward equality in the United States beginning substantially with the suffrage movement when women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton paved a course to benefit future generations. The 19th Amendment, which was adopted 100 years ago this August, provided women with one of the most basic rights we have in this country: the right to vote. On November 2, 1920, more than 8 million women voted for the first time. Women’s voices, actions and decisions have always been an important piece of our national fabric. With the passage of the 19th amendment, women had the ability to directly influence lawmakers.
During World War II, women also played an immeasurable role, serving bravely from the initial attack on Pearl Harbor to the last days of the Pacific campaign. With the stand up of the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), more than 1,000 women contributed to the war effort by ferrying planes from factories to bases, transporting cargo, and training combat pilots how to strafe targets. Together, they accumulated more than 60 million flight miles!
Fast forward to 1993 when I was still a Junior Naval Officer and proudly witnessed the United States Armed Forces lift the Combat Exclusion Policy, a 45-year-old practice restricting women from serving in combat roles. In the years since that monumental decision, we have seen military women soar past countless milestones and now serve as an integral part of the F-35 fighter pilot community!
Just like these trailblazers, the amazing women in the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) continue to achieve success and triumph over complex challenges to find the best solutions for our war fighters. As we continue to execute our mission in unprecedented times, and during Women’s History Month and beyond, I honor all of you who make a difference to the F-35 Program in your different roles. Navigating the JPO can be tricky, but when we work together to reinforce our talents, we break through impossible barriers just as those remarkable women in whose footsteps we follow. Thank you for all of your unique contributions to keep the F-35 Enterprise strong! (DOD Story by Ms. Tanya Skeen)