NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The commander of Naval Surface Force Atlantic (CNSL) hosted a women's symposium Aug. 18 to provide women serving in the Navy, both enlisted and officer, an open forum to discuss challenges and opportunities they may face in the fleet.
"I think this is a great opportunity for us to share ideas," said Rear Adm. Kevin M. Quinn, commander, CNSL, "And discuss issues and challenges that women face now in the Navy and what they have done to overcome them in the past."
There are a total of 150,000 women serving in the Navy since the establishment of the Women's Inclusion Law of 1993, which allowed women serving in the Navy to be placed on ships and amphibious vessels alongside their male counterparts.
"We've reached a point where women are expected to be in leadership positions. They are very important to our growth. We could not carry out [the] maritime strategy without them. Working together is what makes us a diverse and talented workforce," Quinn said.
Rear Adm. Carol M. Pottenger, commander, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, participated in the symposium as the keynote speaker.
"I am really proud of our leadership for sponsoring events like this," said Pottenger. "This event is meant to bring together the women from the waterfront."
"We [the Navy] didn't have this interest 10 years ago, to push and provide mentorship programs. You can't walk out of here without knowledge of these programs. You can't say 'they don't care.' They do care. We do care," added Pottenger.
The symposium's primary purpose is to mentor and build networks. It is to teach the attendees about the program and policies so they may take the information back to the waterfront and their ships to share it with other women.
"It is important that you take advantage of this today. You're the only one that can make it worthwhile," Pottenger said. "Ask the hard questions."
Pottenger offered her own personal advice for women serving in the surface warfare community.
"I encourage you not to blend in, but stand out. Don't be timid about speaking up or speaking out. Embrace the women behind you, and help them make the right career and personal choices," emphasized Pottenger.
Senior leadership and the CNSL Diversity Office hope to gain better insight and feedback with issues affecting women by presenting information, discussing solutions and encouraging communication between the female surface warfare communities.
From mentorship to childcare information, the Navy currently has many outreach programs available for women. The goal of the programs is to encourage retention of female surface warfare officers and enlisted service members by providing them guidance through personal and professional career matters.
For more news from Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/surflant/.