The Women In Aviation International (WAI) scholarship applications close 12 November this year! WAI gives out almost $1M in aviation related scholarships each year- check the link below to see if you qualify for one and get your application in soon!
Parents, have you ever wanted your child to experience aviation up close and personally- in a general aviation airplane? Come out to Jacksonville Executive Airport on 16 November for a chance to fly in a general aviation aircraft FOR FREE with a EAA certified Young Eagle Pilot!
Young Eagles is a program started by Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) to introduce children of all ages to aviation. Residents of Jacksonville can take advantage of this event on 16 November and then cheer on local pilots as they compete in a landing contest!
Join us at the Willowbranch Library on 2875 Park St at 5p, tomorrow 21 Oct to hear from female pilots and other professionals on real life experiences, advice and candid dialogue on what it is like to not only be a pilot, but a pilot with different needs and expectations than the majority. Help us change the statistics! #beapartofthechange
There are rare times in history when the ingenuity and courage of leaders are captured in such a way as to inspire generations behind them, but Milieux has discovered another such leader in Princess Olga of Kiev.
Princess Olga, also known as Saint Olga, was born sometime in the 10th century to a royal family. She was married to Prince Igor I of Kiev, heir of Oleg and ruler of the Keivan Rus, who lived in the area that is now known today as Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, to whom she bore a son, Svyatoslav.
The Keivan Rus had a complicated relationship with neighboring tribes, the Drevlians. The pagan tribes had allied in their battles against the Byzantine Empire, from which a tithing was developed to be paid from the Drevlians to the Keivan Rus. When the Drevlians refused to pay in 912, Igor rode with his army to “encourage” them to pay, and when he decided they did not give enough and returned to impose more tithings, the Drevlian Prince Mal killed him.
History does not give a good account of how this affected Princess Olga but, but as regent to the throne, she was soon courted by the Drevlians to marry the murderer of her husband, Prince Mal. The Drevlians sent a boat of ambassadors to convince the princess to agree to marriage, and, either fearing that revenge would be taken upon them, or beguiled by instructions from Olga herself, demanded they be carried in their boat to discuss the matter directly with the Princess.
The Drevlians obviously underestimated the Princess and her ingenuity and/or desire for revenge for when they arrived to her castle in their boat, she had already dug a grave for them the size of a boat, and commanded her men to drop the boat unto it and buried them alive. Before the grave was even refilled, she sent for more ambassadors from the Drevlians, feigning delight at the first party of suitors. Unaware of the murders she had just committed, they sent more representatives and upon their arrival, she encouraged them to bathe and relax. They went willingly and without knowing it, Princess Olga had them locked inside and set fire to the bathhouse, burning the Drevlian ambassadors alive.
This began Princess Olga’s year-long siege on the Drevlians, conquering their cities and farms. Legend has it that when the capital refused to submit to her rule, she called a truce and asked for pigeons and sparrows from all of the homes of the Drevlians, as a show of good faith. The Drevlians were grateful. When the birds arrived, she had her men tie paper firebombs to the birds’ legs, knowing that the birds would return to their homes- let them loose and set fire to the Drevelian capital. Over 5000 Drevlians died in her war against them.
Princess Olga was a pagan at birth but grew an interest in Christianity in her adult years. Her sainthood is rooted in her ambition to bring Christianity to the people of Kiev, though she was unsuccessful in convincing her son to convert once he was of age. In her travels to Constantinople, and a visit to Emperor Constantine VII, the Emperor conversed with her and determined her to be worthy to “reign with him”. Olga pointed out that she was pagan, and that she required instruction and baptism and insisted that the Emperor be her instructor. He taught her and shared the Christain way with her and upon her baptism, in which she accepted the Christian name “Helena” after the Emperor’s mother, she once again outwitted her suitor and pointed out that he was now her godfather, eliminating the possibility of matrimony. Emperor Constantine was impressed with her cunning and historical references validate that he respected her for her wit, making the Keivan-Rus and Byzantine kingdom an alliance.
While the princess ruled only for the years her son, Sviatoslav, was growing up, her success as a regent and ruler are irrefutable. She was the first female ruler of Keiv and the first Christian ruler. And her duality of a bloodthirsty widow set on revenge and a Christian woman destined to change a culture make her a very interesting figure to study. Someone who was as ruthless and cunning as the princess is memorialized and celebrated by her people. I think there is a lesson in this for girls today. Not that they must be killers and ruthless, but that girls must live life as best as they can, without thinking about how their actions will be perceived. A lot of pressure is put on girls to be demure and quiet – intentionally or not – for fear of ruining their reputation or status. Having a figure like Princess Olga to reminds us that we are all destined to deal with some complication in life – and being quiet and demure about it may not be the best way to approach it.
This isn’t going to be a piece tearing down a beautiful, successful and smart woman – not even close. Taylor Swift is an luminious genius, and an outright superstar. I love her music, I enjoy how brazen, powerful and autobiographical she can be while creating beats and melodies that energize us to dance. She can speak to multiple generations at the same time, masterfully describing just enough of a modern woman’s life to pique an audience’s interest. You should listen to Taylor Swift’s music if it appeals to you. But artists should be careful about the themes of the messages they send, especially as it relates to being a woman in a “man’s” world – and this is why.
Taylor Swift recently released a new song you can watch above, called “The Man”. The song pretty well and succinctly demonstrates the not so subtle sexism that has been the undercurrent of western society for the last 100 years,; the unfair role that women have been placed in to be the gatekeepers of civility alone without similar responsibilities for men. It describes the different ways successful men are received in the music industry versus successful women, how women gain reputations for being “needy” or “hysterical” while men are seen as powerful for acting in similar ways. It makes a good argument for why men have it easier. But my point is “so what”?
Don’t listen to Taylor Swift or Nicki Minaj about the sexism they face. Don’t feel bad for them for being victimized by these perceptions. For one thing, they are multi-billionaires who are incredibly successful and for the other thing, they are talented and our focus on them should not be how they have had to experience adversity- but how they have succeeded despite it! Our little girls are watching and learning a narrative that they will be doomed to repeat if we continue to be complicit about it.
Look, we have all experienced sexism, men and women. I have sat across from many power house women over dinner and shared experiences of sexism. We talk about what could be done about it and then we realize we don’t care. Its a not powerful to reduce yourself to what people percieve you as.
This song, “The Man” and the Glamour Magazine cover of it that you can read here, as well as a piece in Forbes, and EliteDaily are all dangerous feminist narratives that are more likely to decrease confidence in young girls and create an idea of victimhood than encouraging them to be possible powerhouses like the women they idolize. These “perfectly feminist” sentiments are far more destructive to the self esteem of our girls than helpful because they are not empowering. Once again a strong woman describes her victimhood instead of owning her success as she deserves to- Ironic isn’t? Or maybe its just part of her artistic genius- Swift may be capitalizing on the idiosyncracies that exist in society, laughing all the way to the bank.
Maybe she sees that playing on her victimhood is en Vogue and profitable – but who pays for it ultimately?
Take, for example, the recent conversation I had with my boyfriend at a restaurant that he has been dying for me to write about. It was lunch time, and we were eating downtown in a restaurant that many business people were dining at as well. He leaned over to ask my opinion about a clothing option our waitress had chosen. “This is a really nice restaurant, right? Then why is our waitress not wearing a bra?” he asked me- “what is your opinion on that? I think its distracting and lowgrade” he finished. I could have launched into how unfair his assessment was, how she should be able to wear whatever she wanted. But I decided to take a different approach.
I laughed, I hadn’t even noticed her underclothing choice to be honest. She was a very pretty girl, kind, nice and attentive, the last three adjectives being characteristics I appreciate in anyone I meet. And so I started looking around the restaurant and I couldn’t help but notice how dressed down all the men were, especially for being “business” types, and how many of them were a little bit on the chubbier side. And they weren’t wearing bras, or undershirts, or anything to cover their “indecencies”. Their nipples and breasts were just as, if not more, exposed and unrestrained as our waitress’s were. It was quite distracting as I started to look around.
And so I asked him in reply “since when did men stop wearing undershirts? I see a lot of men in here showing nipple and no one seems to be upset about it, maybe I should start?” and I followed with “and how many of them do you think are not wearing underwear?” “This is a nice restaurant, why do they think this is okay?
And that’s my point – don’t hate the game – play the game! Just because someone tries to shame a woman for behaving a certain way or wearing certain clothes doesn’t make them right! Stop being complicit about it. Our world is full of enough criticism as it is. Be oblivious to it and be you. As one of my favorite Winston Chuchill quotes advises “you can’t throw stones at every dog that barks, you will never get to where you are going”
So don’t listen to Taylor Swift’s interview on how poorly she is treated in the music industry or by media. She is making a ton of money off of everything she is doing and she knows how to turn her situations to her advantage. Don’t listen to her- watch her. mimic her, and be as brave and big and controversial as she is. She has built an entire career on being underestimated. Women all over the world could do the same.
Last year’s award winner, Capt Melissa Martin, is currently getting her CFI certificate. Martin, a C-130 pilot in the Montana Air National Guard, has served in multiple crew positions and applied for the scholarship last year. She is currently flying under “basicmed” due to discovery and treatment for breast cancer – this scholarship broadens her career options as she faces multiple medical reviews in the ANG.
The basic requirements for the scholarship are a private pilot’s license, a WAI membership and a desire to do great things with it!
Good luck to all who apply!
And to find out more about opportunities in the Air National Guard visit www.goang.com
The push for more female aviators is big right now. Don’t take our word for it- get out to Oshkosh and find out for yourself!
What is the Experimental Aviation Association?
The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) is a growing and diverse organization of members with a wide range of aviation interests and backgrounds.
Founded in 1953 by a group of individuals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who were interested in building their own airplanes, EAA expanded its mission of growing participation in aviation to include antiques, classics, warbirds, aerobatic aircraft, ultralights, helicopters, and contemporary manufactured aircraft.
Membership in EAA enables you to share the spirit of aviation with the most passionate community of recreational pilots, builders, and restorers.
EAA is the only association that offers the fun and camaraderie of participating in the flying, building, and restoring of recreational aircraft with the most passionate community of aviation enthusiasts. There are chapters everywhere and you can join here.
Defining women’s achievement in sports is like placing a governor on an engine. The engine is restricted from producing max results- just as girls are restricted by being compared to boys – setting the expectation that girls will never be as athleticly competitive as boys. Exploring some history in sports may help explain this hypothesis.
The Federation International de Futbol Association (FIFA) Women’s World Cup is in full swing, and the United States is set to play France in the quarters next week, after their win against Sweden and the break out player, Madelen Janogy and then Spain – barely winning 2-1. It looks like the USNWT is set to dominate again in the International Futbol Arena – a position rarely enjoyed by the US Men’s team. The excitement and thrill of soccer is growing more in the United States- for both women’s and men’s teams. Local bars are showing the games in most communities and advertisements are showing up on media and in social media spaces. Women’s sports, and soccer in particular, is still not as well followed as it is in the rest of the world, even in 2019, but circumstances are changing- just not quickly as many had thought after the moment in 1999 that shocked the world.
This article started out as an opinion piece about changing (or unchanging) social norms as related to women, nudity and athleticism since Brandi Chastain’s famous winning goal score celebration 20 years ago. What has become more interesting is the meaning of being a female athlete in the western world. While second (or is it third?) wave feminism continues to mark “women’s firsts” – accomplishments women have achieved despite their gender “handicap” – young women across the country practice and compete daily without thinking twice about whether they are supposed to even compete or not. The mindset of athletes is simple enough, put the work in and see the results, but the fair evaluation of athleticism appears at odds with the complex social understanding of what a girl (or woman) is. “Throw like a girl”, “run like a girl”, “kick like a girl” etc. complicates our evaluations of athletic achievement. We see less ability because we believe women are less capable. This comparison of what is feminine and what is masculine in sports has become a central discussion for Americans and other westerners – all while girls play out almost unaffected by the gender roles they are challenging.
Almost to the day in 1999, the FIFA Women’s World Cup USNWT brought soccer to the forefront of the United States viewership when the men’s team could not. Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, Joy Fawcett, and Christi Pearce dominated the field with enviable talent along with 16 other amazing women to bring soccer, and the US Women’s National Soccer Team, to the forefront of the American sports world. I still remember watching the epic goal scored by Brandi Chastain, and the pure celebration on her face as she tore off her jersey with her remaining adrenaline and knelt in amazement at what she and her team had just accomplished.
This wasn’t the first thing that Brandi had done that was considered salacious- but it was the most significant. Some called her genius, others criticized her “nudity”. Brandi was the kind of person that demanded respect- or broke from gender roles as some would say- early on. She was known to curse at interviews and act more “masculine” than many expected her to. She demanded respect and compliance from referees. As an example, I found the following commentary from a sports discussion board on 11 July 1999, where an anonymous user said:
“Not being an exact quote she said about teammate Michelle Akers, ‘She’s the best goddamned player in the world.’ I think it was a bit more scandalous since it came from a woman who aren’t expected to upset our delicate sensibilites about language as much as men.”
This commentary and other news stories indicated that her locker room interview, and not the first one of its kind, was not well received. How dare she curse on TV? Young ladies are not supposed to use that kind of language. Many sports casters and male athletes respond emotionally in interviews frequently, some viewers dislike it- but not many are as vocal or as critical as they were of Brandi Chastain in 1999.
Perhaps it was the sports bra that drove the sports fans over the edge. The impropriety of a woman choosing to reveal herself was hard for many understand. And then came the discussion of how much material was involved – and if it covered enough to preotect Brandi’s decency. Even recently, the athletic look on women is discouraged and disparaged. A fantastic commentary was produced by YouTube personality, Jenna Marbles on the matter below
Diving back into the sports bra moment, though, it was significant for many reasons- most of which was the opportunity for young girls across the country to see a powerful woman displaying her own athleticism in celebration of athletic achievement. Mothers and fathers across the country thanked Brandi for giving their daughters a new role model – a passionate, dedicated, muscular athlete. They were grateful for a picture of a half-naked woman who wasn’t passively in a bikini, who wasn’t being objectified, and who was, most importantly, in charge of her agency. That sports bra became symbolic of achievement and victory. And, as consumerism in America works, the sports bra became one of the highest grossing items in the US shortly following the picture. But that is pretty much where it ended. Lots of sports bras were purchased, many girls wore them in reverence for Chastain and team USA and then the moment faded into history. High expectations were made for progress in women’s soccer internationally, as well as changes to perceptions about female athletes in general that were arguable never really achieved. We all thought that Brandi Chastain had changed the world of women’s soccer forever, but we were all a bit too optimistic.
The proof lies in how we approach athletics in general, It is 2019 and women’s and men’s soccer is still divided. Society continues to think women are not as athletically talented as men, that women have to be “hyper aggressive to be competitive as men”. Ads surround us communicating to girls to be tougher, more aggressive, empowered by the hard faces of women athletes testifying to their “girl power”. None of them encourage girls to be themselves on their journey to athletic prowess. The fear that girls will become men is set aside as we encourage girls to be men to be more competitive. The hypocracy is genuinely confusing for our girls.
Visa looks to end “Vicious Cycle” by promoting women’s empowerment
And yet women are challenging men in individual competitions regularly- why do we not recognize it more. Earlier this year during a “prestigious cycling race” in Belgium, the women’s cycling group caught up the “very slow men’s group” after a 10 minute delay. The women were forced to stay back because the men’s race was considered “more important” much to the dimay of the female riders, with a lack of the overall win that they were on track for.
Shalane Flanagan also won the New York Marathon, as you may recall, finishing first overall. A recent athlete in ultra marathons, Courtney Dauwalter is also making a name for herself by beating the best man in a 240 mile race by 10 hours back in 2017. And Ultra Marathoner, Jasmin Paris shattered the 168 mile Montane Spine Race and won overall.
These are just a few examples of women who are closing the gap on the scientific determined “gender gap”- a performance difference reliably found in past performances between women and men. Israeli physicist Ira Hammerman found that women’s speed records were consistently about 90% of men’s times and shared his findings in the 2010 Wingate Congress of Exercise & Sports Sciences Symposium. This surely should cause one to ask- what do those statistics really reveal- a short history of allowing women to compete with a categorization of “less important than men’s sport”. If the expectation is set that an achievement is not possible, the inertia will keep most from making that achievement. Take for example the 4 minute mile. No one thought it was humanly possible to run a mile in less than 4 minutes until 1954, when Roger Bannister did it at 3:59.4. Since then, over 1400 athletes have run miles in under 4 minute and the new standard lies at 3:43. The same phenomenon could be effecting girls and contributing to this “scientifically proven” difference in speed.
In order to change results of these scientific findings, we should give consideration to how much society is presupposing performance. Normalizing inter gender competition at young ages may be the key to seeing nonpartial results- and may lead to changes in “scientifically proven differences in men’s and women’s speed times” . In other words, let’s take the goevernors off of our young girls and see how they do in adulthood. Spain is showing progress in this regard – being a stalwart of intergender soccer and finding incredible results- when girls and boys are held to the same standard, they perform at the same standard.
And so the question becomes, what is your definition of feminity and could it be redefined based on the performance of the female gender once they have been “ungoverned”. Are we realizing that women are not the less capable beings society has determined them to be? Are they actually gifted in ways that we do not fully understand yet, in areas that we are only now exploring as we seek new ways to win? Could girls be holding secrets to success that we have not yet explored as a society – or even as a species?
These questions should be asked as we witness the athletic prowess displayed before us daily on national TV in FIFAs Women’s World Cup. Maybe one day there will only be one World Cup- where men and women match their athleticism on a level playing field. Until then, though, you can watch the competition and athleticism break out for the quarter finals set in France on Fox and FS1 – the schedule is hosted here on CBS Sports.com
What are your thoughts on women, sports and the future of competition? Should our predictions be based on our experiences or on our expectations- and can those two things be separated enough to allow progress?
Momentum is growing to increase the number of women statues that are present in the United States. Only 8% ( a generous estimation by Lilylines.com- some websites report as low as 4%) of statues are devoted to and built in the figures of actual American women pioneers.
This is a shame, given that the United States claims to be the pioneer and example of women’s rights across the world. However, if measured by monuments and memorials, the United States and other western cultures are not the stalwarts of female empowerment as they claim- many eastern religions have worshipped the divine feminine for centuries.
It does take a true appreciation of how much the definition of femininity and women’s roles in the west, and it is high time to start honoring women with national monuments.
Clara Barton would be our first suggestion, she is memorialized by a slate stone- hardly a reflection of who she was.
A second suggestion is a monument to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, second female justice to be appointed to the Supreme Court and champion of modern women’s equality.
A third recommendation would be for a statue that represents American values in sports – such as Brandi Chastain or Simone Biles.
And the list goes on of incredible candidates worthy of National recognition- names like Jackie Cochran, Grace Hopper, Gertrude Ederle, Sally Kristen Ride come to mind immediately – all would make amazing tributes to modern American courage and tenacity.
All would be better candidates than R-Evolution, the last proposal made in 2017, for a female statue in Washington, DC. R-Evolution is a 45 ft tall rendition of a nude woman standing in mountain pose- hardly the representation of the heroines we remember most.
Luckily, the proposal to have R-Evolution places in the National Mall was denied by the National Park Service due to the chance it “might damage the National Mall’s grass”- a bit of a sham excuse but enough for activists to rejoice that the first presentation of a woman on the National Mall would not be naked– no matter what her purpose (the artist, Marco Cochrane, intended it to be a symbol that empowered women against domestic violence).
With the 4th of July quickly approaching, this article came to mind. Mary Katherine Goddard took advantage of an entrepreneurial moment by publishing the Declaration of Independence when others could not. May she not be forgotten in history… Mary Katharine Goddard and the Declaration of Independence
With all the attention on female equality lately, we at Milieux realize we all don’t think about the men that support us in these societal changes. The recent news about supporting fathers by adding changing tables to public bathrooms is just in time for Father’s Day.
The good news is that states like New York, Ohio and Florida are already working to fix the inequality that is changing tables in bathrooms. Have you ever thought about the men who need to care for their children when traveling alone? Women have it easier, comparatively. Men have babies, too. They shop with their babies, drive to gas stations with their babies and fly with their babies.
And, thanks to Donte Palmer, an advocate to change how we think about fathers, more attention is being paid to fathers’ needs on the road.
Donte created #squatforchange movement- which showed the obstacles men faced to change their children in public restrooms, and @pampers got involved. Now, over 5000 changing tables will be supplied to mensrooms nation wide.
Thank you to all the wonderful dads out there that deal with obstacles like this daily in silence. We love you for what you do and are grateful for this opportunity to recognize you.
On this, the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, Milieux Project would like to remember the women that composed the original FlyGirls: The Women’s Auxiliary Service Pilots who were critical to the Allied Air Operation over the largest amphibious assault in history.
Established in 1942 and disbanded 2 and a half years later – these brave and tenacious women ensured equipment built in the United States made it to the battlefield. This was no small feat- many women had to stand on their toes to make height restrictions and wore equipment too large for them just so they could contribute.
Wearing Walt Disney’s rendition of a female Gremlin, Fifinella, and led by innovator Jackie Cochran, the WASPs answered their nation’s call and volunteered to do what was needed for victory. Without the WASPS, the Riveters, the WAVES and all of the others who filled the seats that the defense department needed, the outcome of WWII might have been much different. A personal letter from the German Commander in Normandy to Hitler sums it up as follows “…there is no way in which we could battle with the all-powerful enemy air forces … without being forced to surrender territory.”
Thank you to the women and men of the greatest generation – who faced evil and defeated it with courage.
It’s exciting to read about mother pilots who are sharing their passion for flying with their children and how their stories are increasing. From Instagram to the local news- stories keep popping up about women flying with their children.
Take for example the mother, Laura Stants, who flew her daughter to OshKosh in 2016. As an airline pilot, she knew she wanted to share the love of flight with her daughter. At one point, she demonstrated acrobatics – including inverted flight- to her daughter in their T-6.
When her daughter, Kaylee, wrote about her experience in a trip report, it scared her teachers. But Laura was undeterred – she knew the value of showing her daughter flying, and she wanted her daughter to know exhilaration.
And then there is the story of the Delta captain, Wendy Rexton, who flew with her first officer daughter cross country and recorded it for the training school- and it scored the most hits for the school that it had received ever- an amazing recruiting tool.
Or finally the story that we heard Kathleen Cosand tell about her landing competition that she flew, and won, against her son on their American Airlines flight.
Women across the United States are sharing aviation careers with their children in increasing numbers. Because women only make up 7% of the aviation industry, it is even more remarkable- and vital- that the mother-child flying trend continues. There is no feeling like piloting a machine into the sky- one that a mother wants to show their kids. And it’s an experience that Milieux Project believes should be available to everyone.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what “Male Dominated” means when it comes to work environments. I understand it to an extent- but really reflecting on my experiences in the military reminds me of all the guys who helped me and encouraged me to get where I am at. That doesn’t feel like domination. It feels like teamwork. Why do we forget about those men when we consider our circumstances? Maybe its time we consider this term more carefully.
The guys that were in my first unit often enjoy sharing stories of “1Lt Aupke” to others who meet me now. They like to tell people about how I drove up that first day in my loud Diesel Dodge Ram 2500 that made half the smoke pit’s heads turn. And they like to describe how I walked down the middle of the hallway like I was a queen from the moment I walked in. I didn’t think anything of it but I guess it was weird? It was just the way I felt then – I was just out of pilot training and I thought I was God’s gift to the 66th Rescue Squadron – the first to graduate on time in almost 2 years. I felt pretty good about myself and was excited about the opportunity. When a former Army Warrant Officer invited me to lunch on that first day, I immediately agreed. I distinctly remember how he and the 4 other guys from the squadron asked if I was single as we cruised down Craig Avenue in his 1999 Lincoln sedan and I replied in my smart ass way “I don’t date coworkers” setting the tone immediately for the rest of my tour there – and really the rest of my career.
So, when I was sitting in my office, now a squadron commander myself, mentoring an officer trainee at officer training school recently, I was thrown off when she asked innocently – “What is it like working in a ‘Male Dominated’ world”? “Male Dominated” I hadn’t thought about this in a while. I really had to consider it.
What is “male dominated”? I rolled the question over in my head as I worked on a thoughtful response to her question. The Air Force is, after all, led by a male General and Chief Master Sergeant. And I have often hypothesized that when a woman is CSAF things might change. But in my more local experience, I don’t feel as though I’m necessarily “dominated” as the word suggests. What really defines domination anyway?
As I mull over this question- an image of a woman I saw over the weekend pops in my head. At brunch with my son, I catch a glimpse of her shirt that says “the future is female” and I can’t help but think- what does “the future is feminine” even mean? What about men? Is it possible to have a world without men? I mean, I had my son right there with me. Does the future suddenly exclude him? My son won’t be a woman and I sure as heck don’t think he has to be a girl to be powerful or influential. Why would I support such a sentiment as a mother? But on the other side, I do want to support diversity. “The future is female” as if the present is male? But both seem at odds with a goal of diversity. So I disagree. I really don’t want to be “dominated” by anyone honestly. Am I of such an agency to allow my faculty to be “dominated”? And why would I want women to dominate men? The reverse is exactly what we are fighting to change.
Oh yes, I remember I am answering a question in my office. The trainee continues to look to me for an answer. I imagine that she expects some sort of response that involves “GRIT” and “passion” and patience or something with feminist “woman power” undertones. Instead, I respond with this same kind of confused response – “what do you mean, male-dominated”? And then it is her turn to look at me confused.
I honestly don’t know what it is like to work in a “male-dominated” world- I can only remark on what things are like in an environment where men happen to be the majority – and continue to be the majority despite multiple deliberate efforts to change it. If we imagine a military of women- as Col (Ret) Karl Friedl writes about in his fantastic article, Biases of the Incumbents – What if We Were Integrating Men into a Women’s Army– that challenges the perceptions of diversifying the military. What if we had an all women’s army that had to be opened to men, would the challenges of that be just as numerous and exclusionary for men? Men would have to wear uniforms that don’t fit them, they would have to subsist on lower calorie meals, they would have to strengthen their lower extremities and use less upper body strength, just to name a few. And probably, they would have to be put in special dorms that probably locked them in so that they did not mingle with the women while they were hormonally charged from hunger. Those are just a few of the things that would be prohibitive if the roles were reversed. It would be challenging – what would it be like to work in a “woman dominated” field?
And yet male nurses, flight attendants, and teachers do it all the time. Do they have support groups and “Lean in” coaching seminars to learn to act more like women? Do they lament that they are dominated? My instinctual response is probably not. So why do women?
I would guess that about 95% of people agree that we need diversity of thought to progress – and most men do not wake up in the morning with the intention of excluding women. At least, they haven’t in my experience. And how much are women excluding themselves just by using language like “male dominated”? Most men want women to have the same opportunities they had- they just don’t know necessarily where things are limited – or how their behaviors are inadvertently exclusionary. There are some places where equality of access and opportunity could be improved for women and society is slowly working to change them, one “woman dominated” act at a time.
So, as I formulate my response to this young lady I decide to ask her to reconsider the circumstances. It’s not that the Air Force is “male dominated”- but that men happen to be the majority. Not so scary or intimidating anymore – requires less “GRIT” and passion more acceptance and challenge. If we change the way we frame the situation with our language, maybe it will help us find better ways to solve it.
**The views in this piece are of the author’s alone and do not reflect on the United States Air Force or US Department of Defense.
It all started with someone posting a quick reply to a post on Facebook I made in March, “Jenn, I have an opportunity for you, I’ll be in touch soon.” My friend and I connected and he shared his idea – I called Carrie and she said: “let’s do it- let’s have a booth at the Air Force’s largest Air Show in May!!” Holy smokes! I thought to myself. We are doing this!
There was a lot of planning involved- how would we present ourselves, what would we share with the kids? It was a STEM event that we were being asked to support – we had to do something interesting but within our budget. We thought of bringing some VR gear, but after some discussion, we realized that putting a kid in Virtual Reality would not give us the engagement we were seeking – plus we aren’t Virtual Reality salespeople. So Carrie came up with “Hoop Airplanes“, bottle rockets and coloring. We bought the stores out of straws, index cards, crayons, paper and 35mm film containers (remember those?) and headed to Washington DC. And thanks to the financial support of many of our friends and family, we pulled it off.
We had an absolutely amazing time at the Joint Base Andrews Airshow that took place that weekend, May 10-12 2019. We engaged with over 5000 children and adults throughout the event spreading the word about women in aviation and the possibilities available for everyone. It was fun promoting Preflight Aviation Camp, Legacy Flight Academy, and Sisters of the Skies as we built hoop airplanes that looked like they shouldn’t fly and rockets with the little ones.
The whole event was educational and fun, we were grateful to be a part of it all. The best part was meeting Mae Krier, one of the original Rosie the Riveters – an energetic 93-year-old who continues to inspire women to do the extraordinary through her iconic bicep curl. If it wasn’t for the patriotic women of the riveters (one in four married women in 1943), the United States would not have been able to maintain its manufacturing dominance during the war.
Altogether, the weekend was a humbling and exciting event. We were so grateful to our photographer, @Laylasnapz (on Instagram) for her amazing eye, K. Zimmerman for his encouragement and connections, and Ryan V. for all of the opportunities he provided us. The Milieux Project is starting to catch on and we can’t wait to see what’s next!
If you like what you see here, please contact us for your next event. We love engaging and sharing our stories. Also, please show your support where ever you go with a Milieux Patch or sticker which can be purchased on our home page. Thanks so much for reading and being a part of the change! #changethemilieux #aviatrix #rosietheriveter #womeninhistory
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