Women’s Leadership Symposium open doors for junior Marines to speak to senior leaders
Station residents gathered inside Club Iwakuni here, March 19, 2013, for the Women's Leadership Symposium, which provided an opportunity for males and females, from junior to enlisted senior and officers, to speak freely.
“Women Marines are a minority. Seven percent of the Marine Corps is female,” said Gunnery Sgt. Alvin P. Cruz, station equal opportunity advisor. “The junior Marines, sailors and soldiers here don’t really have a chance to talk to senior enlisted and senior officers, because usually, as a lance corporal, you would talk to your corporal or your sergeant. You never really jump the chain.”
One of the goals of the symposium was to break down the social wall in the military created by rank.
“This is a chance for them to let down their hair and ask those hard questions,” said Cruz. “As a gunny, I have never had that chance to sit down with a panel. As (Sgt. Maj. Tamara L. Fode, 3rd Marine Logistics Group sergeant major) said, she wished she had this opportunity before as a junior Marine.”
Participants spent the majority of the event attending four different workshops, which included topics such as stress management,personal relationships, self-esteem, and others.
“This was worth it,” said Cruz. “When you pick up (staff noncommissioned officer), all that matters is your Marines. It’s all about mission accomplishment and troop welfare. All this time and effort we’re putting into this, we don’t mind it. And one of these days, one of these enlisted men or women are going to take our place and do this symposium.”
The event’s name may have deceived some station residents, but the symposium was far from a female-only soiree.
“The most conflict women are going to find in the military is from men. One of the biggest things I have noticed, going through the ranks, is that it’s because of a lack of education on what women can bring to the table,” said Staff Sgt. John P. Stewart, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12 equal opportunity representative. “If men just became more educated about women’s issues and what they’re actually experiencing and hearing them voice it, it might enlighten them to what those issues are.”
Just as the symposium provided servicemembers the opportunity to take off their ranks and address controversial issues as equals, the information learned from this event can be useful in more situations than military service.
“I believe this is a life lesson,” said Stewart. “There are already women in work places in the civilian world. Women are going to be there, they are our wives, our sisters, our mothers, our daughters. Knowing how to properly interact with them in a professional environment is not such a military thing, it’s a civilian thing, it’s a cultural thing … going out in the civilian world and having an understanding on how to communicate will make you much more desirable as an employee.”