News: Leadership symposium connects female service members
Story by Lance Cpl. Lisa Tourtelot
Practicing yoga with senior leadership, enjoying lunch with actress Geena Davis and listening to retired Lt. Gen. Carol Mutter discuss her role in women’s history are not typical activities for women in the military.
Approximately 1,300 women from the Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and Army gathered for the 24th annual Women’s Leadership Symposium in San Diego Mar. 15 and 16 to discuss the symposium’s theme, “connect, empower, succeed,” with senior military leadership, celebrities and barrier-breaking women.
“It’s important to talk to senior enlisted women because you don’t get to talk to them normally,” said Pfc. Lauren Picard, a motor transport mechanic with 1st Maintenance Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 15. “I’m one of two females in my platoon, so the advice is important. It’s inspiring to see females who are successful.”
Attendees discussed in open sessions career development, mentorship and the challenges women face in the armed service. Participants posed questions to the entire group, and then anyone who felt qualified could answer. Conversations between sergeants and sergeants major, lance corporals and captains were commonplace.
Maj. Gen. Angela Salinas, director of Manpower Management Division, Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Headquarters Marine Corps, spoke at the symposium about the role of mentorship in the development of Marines’ careers.
“Thirty-seven years ago there were less than 2,000 women Marines,” said Salinas. “When I earned the title I had no idea that I’d spend the next 37 years looking for women like me.”
Salinas explained that she often faced difficulties as a female Marine without a mentor to whom she could relate, and she emphasized the importance of military women connecting with each other to provide mutual support.
“Mentoring is what makes us better as individuals, which is what makes us better Marines,” said Salinas.
Speakers encouraged the attendees to carry the ideas “connect, empower, succeed” with them beyond the symposium and continue supporting each other as mentors.