Members of GW’s Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps gathered Thursday to discuss the struggles women face trying to gain equality in the armed forces.
The GW women, joined by NROTC students from Georgetown University and the University of Maryland, attended the presentation at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial, located at the gates of Arlington National Cemetery.
Most of the changes that brought equity to women in the military came in the last 30 years, Brigadier General Wilma Vaught, president of the foundation which supports the memorial, said in a speech.
Vaught said she entered the Air Force because no one in the civilian sector would hire a woman for a management position. Through these types of actions, Vaught said she and other women were able to make unprecedented advances in the military.
Vaught said she was the first woman assigned to all the jobs she has held. She said some of those who worked under her, both male and female, did not want to work for a woman.
Women should seek real decision-making positions and to make sure we don’t slip backward, she said. Women should take advantage of each moment, Vaught said.
The one thing that you really can manage is your time, she said. It’s yours – it’s given to you every day.
Vaught said she learned through the death of her parents that despite the time she committed to her job, she needed to give time to her loved ones as well and encouraged the listeners to do the same.
I hope you will all be doing something for somebody, she said.
After Vaught’s speech and a short movie on the history of women in the armed forces, the students took a tour of the memorial’s exhibits and rooftop terrace. During the tour of the memorial several women discussed the role of women in the military, including stereotypes of servicewomen.
It was neat to get a perspective from someone who’s served so long, junior Alicia Rice said. Rice said she believes the military always has been ahead of the private sector in giving women the chance for advancement.
Freshman Molly McClintock said she enjoyed hearing the perspective of a woman like Vaught, who has seen many doors opened to women.
The Women’s Memorial was officially opened in October 1997 and honors women who have served in all the armed forces throughout American history, according to the memorial’s Web site.
Vaught called it a living memorial with constantly changing exhibits and other features. She said the memorial foundation is planning to complete permanent exhibits, buy public address equipment and make other investments that it could not afford when the memorial was first opened.