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Navy Women In Aviation Show Diversity Is Rising

Hundreds Attend Convention In Orlando, FL Last Month

Anyone who attended this year's 21st Annual Women in Aviation International (WAI) Conference in Orlando, FL knows that Navy women were out in force for the convention. With three Navy admirals in attendance and two Navy officers inducted into this year's WAI Pioneer Hall of Fame, the admirals in attendance sent a strong message that diversity allows for a greater and more versatile workforce.

Rear Adm. Wendi Carpenter, commander, Navy Warfare Development Command, is one of those leaders who believes that Navy leadership is on the right track with diversity. "Look across the spectrum of opportunities that women have been offered in the Navy as well as the diversity that has been embraced by our senior leaders at the three and four star level," said Carpenter. "I think all of our four star commanders are really trying to educate people on diversity and make them understand that it's not just a strategic imperative, it is something that is a wise business decision because you just get better answers and better alternatives by having more people in your workforce besides one size fits all."

Rear Adm. Margaret DeLuca Klein, director of operations, Naval Network Warfare Command, was one of the keynote speakers for the conference and said she also agreed that diversity in the Navy has come a long way and it is still getting better. "The Navy is really pushing to open up submarines to females," said Klein. "The opportunities really are limitless."

Navy women are involved in many areas of aviation including the space program.

U.S. Naval Reserve Capt. Kathy Sullivan was inducted into the WAI Pioneer Hall of Fame Sept. 27 for her accomplishments in aviation. Sullivan was a member of the first space shuttle astronaut class and the first American woman to walk in space. "Any honor that is nominated, and voted on by peers, that's really pretty special," said Sullivan. "These awards are not given away lightly and they are not honors that can be politicked or bought. If you look across the room at the aviation talent from the business side to the flight side, and at the people who have gone before us, it's really something to have their vote of confidence and really quite something to join their company," said Sullivan.

Retired Navy Cmdr. Trish Beckman was also inducted into the WAI Pioneer Hall of Fame. Beckman is the first woman to qualify as a crew member in the F-15E program and the first American woman to qualify as a crewmember in the FA-18D. She also helped influence the United States Senate to repeal combat exclusion laws and change executive branch policy, allowing women to fly aircraft engaged in combat missions.

Nearly 3,000 people attended this year's conference from all aviation walks of life. All branches of military service were represented as well as many corporate officials from various airlines and other aviation organizations. International attendees represented 20 different countries.

All of the Navy leadership attending the conference agreed that across the board in our armed forces, diversity is on the right path. They also agreed that the WAI conference is a great way to network and problem solve issues within the aviation community in addition to showing the world their progress in diversity.

WAI was able to award approximately $678,300 in scholarships to WAI members of all ages to be used for everything from flight training to mechanics.

As an aside, be sure to look for a feature on Aero-TV later this month where we talked to many military women about their careers in aviation and the service.

ANN Salutes Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sunday Williams, Navy Public Affairs Support Element Detachment Southeast.



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