WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Women from all aspects of Naval aviation gathered in Dallas, Texas, March 8-10 to network, mentor, and talk all things aviation.
More than 3,350 representatives from the Department of Defense, professional aviation organizations, and civilian aviation industry attended workshops, discussion panels and aviation exhibits throughout the three-day conference.
The Navy Leading Edge Summit March 9 was highlighted by a flag and senior officer discussion panel. During the panel attendees were encouraged to ask candid questions on topics directly impacting their day-to-day lives, including life/work balance issues and fitting a planned pregnancy into the aviation career pipeline.
The panel included Rear Adm. John "Chris" Sadler, retired Rear Adm. Wendi Carpenter, U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Jon Davis, Capt. Shoshana Chatfield, and Cmdr. Tamara Graham.
"I'm overwhelmed," said Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 1st Class (AW) Mya Green. "Seeing a two star - I haven't even seen a one star female before - I've seen two star males all over, but I haven't seen a female two star at all. To see female air crew - I'd never seen a female air crew. It's been amazing."
During the discussion Carpenter reflected on the differences between the issues she faced as a female aviator 30 years ago compared to the issues facing women in the Navy today.
"We wanted to fly under the radar," said Carpenter. She recalled her time in the cockpit, when things like nail polish and perfume were a definite no-no. The limitations, however, were not from the men she served with, but the women themselves - standing out as a female was something many in her generation did not want to do.
The Navy Leading Edge Summit also included a brief by the Navy's Office of Women's Policy (N134W). The presentation provided a brief history of women in the naval service, a snapshot of where women are currently serving in the Navy, and an update on policies of interest for the women in attendance, including the Career Intermission Pilot Program and Women in Service Restrictions Report to Congress.
"This conference is always a great opportunity for our office to have a frank discussion with aviators on our current policy initiatives, and solicit their feedback," said Lt. Maura Betts. "We try to take advantage any time we can receive feedback directly from the fleet. We make these policies for their benefit, and, in turn, they are our source to tell us what is working, and what we can improve on to better their naval service."
Attendees were also able to participate in a speed mentoring session, aviation exhibits, and educational sessions throughout the weekend on topics including, "Managing Motherhood and a Flying Career," "The iPad Revolutionized the Flight Deck," and "Breaking the Last Glass Ceiling - Women Leaders In Aviation."
The most important part of the conference, however, was the opportunity for Navy attendees to network with others in their field.
"It was such a privilege to see so many females of different genres, all out there doing so many different things," said Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class (AW/SW) Janille Leslie.
Several World War II WASPs (Women Airforce Service Pilots) and one Navy WAVE (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) also attended the conference. U.S. Navy WAVES Mary Magdalene "Maggie" Maga was inducted into the Women in Aviation International Pioneer Hall of Fame during the conference's closing banquet and award ceremony March 10. Maga was one of the Navy's first women aircraft mechanics, training and serving during World War II as an aviation machinist's mate.
New to the conference this year was the outreach event, "Bring Your Daughter to the Conference Day." Women in Aviation International members and their daughters, ages 10 to 17, attended a host of one-day program events designed to spark girls' interest in an aviation career including a junior job fair, arts and crafts, a meet-and-greet with female pilots and aviation mechanics, and a special tour through the exhibit hall.
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For more news from Chief of Naval Personnel - Office of Diversity and Inclusion, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnp-diversity/.