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Women's History Theme Focuses on Heroes' Legacies

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON, Virginia, March 30, 2005 – "Women have come a long way in the military services and in the federal government," said the DoD official presiding here today for the DoD Women's History Month program.

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Gail McGinn, deputy undersecretary of defense for plans in the Office of the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, told about 200 student participants in the Close Up Foundation government program that the world is open to you and theres just about nothing you cant do. McGinns comment came during the DoD observance of Womens History Month on March 30 at the Womens Memorial near the entrance to Arlington (Va.) National Cemetery. Photo by Rudi Williams
  

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"Today, women make up nearly one-sixth of the active duty force and almost two-fifths of the DoD civilian employee population," said Gail McGinn, deputy undersecretary of defense for plans in the Office of the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.

She said the annual observance gives DoD an opportunity to celebrate the phenomenal accomplishments of women from the past, present and future. "This year's theme, 'Women Change America,' focuses on the many heroes who have left legacies for future generations to follow," McGinn said.

"Trends reveal that in 2004, 38 percent of female officers were in healthcare jobs, 33 percent of enlisted females were in administrative positions and 45 percent of DoD civilian women were in professional and technical careers," McGinn noted. "And an increasing proportion of senior-level active duty and DoD positions are being filled by women."

The representation of military and civilian women in senior-level active duty and DoD civilian positions has improved significantly over the past few years, she told the gathering at the Women's Memorial. But McGinn pointed out that DoD, along with every other federal agency, is facing human-capital challenges in some critical occupations and educational disciplines that must be addressed proactively.

"Today's program is intended to focus on the propensity of women to participate in science, engineering and mathematics occupations and disciplines," she said.

"For the young people out there," McGinn announced, "we are going to be job hunting in a few years. Or when you complete college, remember that we have a human-capital crisis in the federal government and we need people who will be willing to join us and work in critical positions, particularly in science, engineering and mathematics."

John Molino, acting deputy undersecretary of defense for equal opportunity, presented special coins to 12 women math, science and engineering role models who'd been nominated by their agencies.

Representing the Army was Zita Simutis, director, Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences and chief psychologist; Joanne Hensley, engineer, Office of the Administrative Assistant to Secretary of the Army Leadership Program; and retired Lt. Col. Barbara L. Treharne, contractor, Joint Staff, Joint Air and Missile Defense Organization.

Representing the Navy was Ann F. Tate, head, Systems Research and Technology Department; Lisa Kirkpatrick-Swan, engineer; and Sharon M. Parish, section head, Advanced Display Systems Technologies Section. All work at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren, Va.

Representing the Coast Guard was Cmdr. Lisa M. Festa, commanding officer, Office of Naval Engineering Support Unit; Lt. Cmdr. Joyce Aivalotis, assignment officer, Coast Guard Personnel Command; Carolyn R. Boltin, division chief, Naval Resource Damage Claims Division, National Pollution Funds Center; and Lisa Hecker, naval architect and marine engineer, Tank Vessel and Offline Shore Division, Marine Safety Center.

Representing the defense agencies was Patricia Marsh, deputy director, Defense Financial Auditing Service Directorate, Office of the DoD Inspector General; and Lt. Col. Liesel A. Golden, staff officer, Combat Support Assessments Division, Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

With the National Women's History Month theme "Women Change America," the Defense Department celebrated women's achievements and contributions to the defense of the nation today with a special two-part observance here at the Women's Memorial.

The program also featured Janet Hoffheins, deputy director, Human Resources Automated Systems, Defense Civilian Personnel Management Service, who gave an overview of the progress of women in the total DoD workforce military, DoD civilian workforce and contractors. She also gave an update on the recruitment and retention of women in DoD.

Air Force Brig. Gen. K.C. McClain, commander, Joint Taskforce on Sexual Assault, Prevention and Response, talked about progress being made in DoD's efforts toward improvements in the treatment and care of sexual assault victims and efforts to eliminate future incidents.

The program also showcased three women who have reached high positions in DoD and in the civilian sector: Sue Payton, deputy undersecretary of defense for advanced systems and concepts, Office of the Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics; Bonnie Morris, author and professor of women's studies at George Washington University and Georgetown University, Washington; and Debra Knopman, vice president and director of RAND Infrastructure, Safety and Environment, Arlington.

About 200 students and 20 escorts who were in the Washington area as part of the Close Up Foundation program also attended DoD's celebration program.

"I'm especially grateful to Close Up Foundation from bringing us these young, bright 10th, 11th and 12th grade students," McGinn said. "They've traveled from various western and Midwestern states as well as Puerto Rico to participate in this week's close up program events. The foundation has hosted more than 600,000 students, educators and others (since 1970) for weeklong government studies program in the nation's capital.

McGinn told the students the message they should talk away from the DoD observance "is that the world is open to you and there's just about nothing you can't do."

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageStaff Sgt. Leigh Ann Hinton of the U.S. Army Pershings Own Band sings the National Anthem during the DoD observance of National Womens History Month on March 30 at the Womens Memorial at the entrance to Arlington (Va.) National Cemetery. Photo by Rudi Williams  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAbout 200 student participants in the Close Up Foundation government program attended the DoD Womens History Month observance on March 30 at the Womens Memorial, where speakers encouraged them to think about careers in the defense workforce. The walls of the memorials gallery was graced with the Faces of the Fallen exhibit of men and women who were killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan. Photo by Rudi Williams  
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