WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Personnel, Vice Adm. Robert P. Burke, closed out the 2016 Joint Women's Leadership Symposium (JWLS) June 15 as keynote speaker in Arlington, Virginia, and discussed many current issues for women in the Navy as well as several new personnel initiatives that are part of Sailor 2025.
The theme of this year's symposium was "Leading with Purpose! Impacting the Future" and included discussion forums, question-and-answer panels, interactive workshops, and multiple senior military and civilian leaders.
"There are so many great role models here for you to look at and emulate," said Burke. "Watch them and learn from them. We need you to fill their shoes and become the leaders of tomorrow."
The 29th annual symposium, which welcomed more than 600 attendees, focused on strengthening leadership development opportunities for women while exploring options for the future.
Burke stressed the importance of diversity in the military -- whether gender, race, background or thought -- and the necessity to move forward and become an even more successful military. He encouraged the women to engage in conversation with leaders present at the symposium, including himself.
"I asked to speak here today because I want to hear what you have to say, and let you know that above all else, I'm listening to your concerns," Burke told the audience.
"The Navy has made real progress with respect to women serving, but we need to do more, and we need to keep hearing from you," Burke said. "We can't solve our challenges, and we can't move the ball down the field without your input. This is an issue of military readiness -- women are talented, and we need that talent in our Navy."
Burke said that women comprise about 18 percent of the force and play vital roles in the Navy today.
"Women serve in nearly every job in the Navy, and are indispensable to our national security mission," he said. "Thousands of women have served alongside men in Iraq and Afghanistan, aboard ships and submarines, or as aviators, and their record of performance has been nothing less than outstanding."
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