The regional Women’s Leadership Workshop, held at Airstation Miami, brought women and men from the District Seven area together to have an open and candid discussion about women’s issues in the Coast Guard.
Admiral William Baumgartner kicked the day off by saying how important this issue is not only for the Coast Guard as a whole but him personally. He started the Coast Guard Academy in 1976, the first year women were allowed to attend. As his career progressed he became aware of the issues that impact women. His awareness caused him to want to honor his Academy classmates by affecting positive changes for the Coast Guard.
The warm greeting by the Admiral and Master Chief Lou Kitchin set the tone for the day. The intimate setting of the albatross room, allowed people to openly discuss their experiences. The stories shared in both the Junior Leadership Panel and Senior Leadership Panel conveyed images of just how difficult it is to combat sexism and stereotypes.
Managing a career and being a mother was also a big topic. Panelists shared stories of navigating the two-year sabbatical program and coming to terms with the guilt associated with not spending enough time with children. In a particularly touching moment, LCDR Emma Silcox told the group about how painful it was to be working long hours and how upsetting it was to have to rely on a babysitter to pick her daughter up from daycare because she was not able to do it.
The keynote speaker, Admiral Mary Landry, addressed the audience after lunch. She candidly discussed her career. Her husband was also in the Coast Guard, so she dedicated some time talking about how they managed to balance two very successful Coast Guard careers. In the time she spent in the Coast Guard she has seen a great deal of positive change in the culture regarding women. She also noted that we still have a long way to go, and she recognized that some of the challenges for enlisted women differ from the ones officer’s face.
The afternoon was we broke into to workshops and speed mentoring. Though brief, this time gave people a chance to ask specific questions to people with the expertise and background to provide a sound answer. The enlisted career management workshop dispelled some of the myths regarding co-location issues and the mentoring sessions allowed panelists to engage with the attendees.
This was the inaugural regional workshop, which meant there were a few miscues, but nothing that an attendee would really notice. Budget constraints made it difficult for people to attend the Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium. Holding smaller workshops on a regional level is a great way to spread the message while still being cost effective. Kudos to LT Celina Ladyga and LT Christopher Kimrey for envisioning this project and seeing it come to life.