Women’s History Month has ended but not without making more history

For the first time in U.S. Navy history, four female officers will lead warships at the same time. The Navy timed the announcements to coincide with Women’s History Month as well as to underscore the military’s efforts to expand the gender balance of all Americans in the ranks and officer corps.

The four officers are based in Norfolk, Virginia, and are also women of color. Kimberly Jones is commander of the Women’s History Month is ending but not without making more history

Breaking barriers, opening doors, providing role models for those aspiring to fully participate in our nation is now part of the “command” these officers assume. Their new posts come at a time when the Pentagon is undergoing another self-examination of sexual harassment in its ranks — as well as adopting its once-rigid dress standards for males and females to reflect more individualism within the team.

Finding the best one for the job

Symbolically, the four commands are important. Militarily, they are critical to embracing what we think should be everyone’s mantra: to find the best people to do the jobs that call to them, our nation needs to use the entire team.

Much as was said earlier this year, when two females generals were named combatant commanders, the best individuals were selected for the jobs.

Less attention was given to an equally important milestone when, in February, Cmdr. Emily Royse, an Amphibious Warfare Tactics Instructor (WTI), became the first female WTI to command at-sea, when she assumed command of the dock landing ship U.S.S. Rushmore.

And last December, Capt. Amy Bauernschmidt was one of six officers recommended to command a nuclear-powered carrier in fiscal 2022.

Closing the STEM gap

One thing critical in the rise of the new commanders is their deep knowledge of STEM — science, technology, engineering, and math — areas where women have been slow to accelerate. Within STEM-related fields, women make up only 28% of the workforce, according to the American Association of University Women, and men vastly outnumber women majoring in most STEM fields in college.

STEM occupations are expected to see explosive growth in the coming years, as expertise in these areas becomes a highly sought-after job qualification.

Achieving equality in education is a driver of equality for the entire team. The military, still among the most respected institutions in our nation, has used STEM education as part of its foundation to fulfill its 21st century mission.

Calling all hands on deck

Today, women earn 48.5% of all law degrees and 47.5% of all medical degrees. They earn more than 57% of undergraduate degrees and 59% of all master’s degrees.

Education is one critical path to #5050x2028. Heralding major steps forward, as shown by the Navy, is another path.

Some day, such announcements will be routine. Today, however, history gets made with aplomb — and timing.

For these new Naval leaders, the seas may not always be as calm as glass. Today, though, they sail through a considerable glass ceiling.

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