Eglin celebrates Women’s Equality Day

  • Published
  • By Kevin Gaddie
  • Team Eglin Public Affairs


EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Women’s Equality Day was observed here Aug. 26.

The event commemorated the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which granted women the right to vote.

A panel of five women from across the base convened to talk about various issues.  The panel included: Sally Curran, 96th Test Wing chief of plans and programs; Capt. Mary Avalon, 96th Comptroller Squadron, flight commander, financial management analysis; Chief Master Sgt. Karissa Gunter, 96th Mission Support Group senior enlisted leader; Staff Sgt. Erika Collins, 96th Force Support Squadron retentions NCO; and Airman 1st Class Nicole Vazquez, 96th FSS relocations technician.

Vasquez fielded the question of having to work twice as hard as a man, as a woman in the military.

“Men are always expected to do great, whether it be in the military or in life in general,” she said.  “The expectations are not always set that high for women, so we have to perform at a higher level to be recognized for our work.”

Collins addressed one potential barrier that may impact women from reaching the highest levels of leadership in the corporate world.

“Women wear many hats in the corporate world,” she said.  The same is true as a military member.  Being a mother of a five-year-old presents its own challenges, apart from my military job.  I feel I have to prove that I can reach my highest potential in the military, as I balance my home life.”

Gunter offered advice to young women entering the military.

“Have the mindset and belief that you can do anything you want, and can go as far as you want,” she said.

Avalon spoke to how she built confidence and resiliency over the course of her career.

“I have to remind myself that I got me this far, in my career,” said Avalon, a 21-year veteran who spent eight years as an enlisted member.  “I’ve experienced some setbacks and suffered major injuries.  As I healed from my injuries, I got my bachelor’s degree and my commission.  It never once crossed my mind to quit.  My resilience and perseverance comes from within.”

Finally, Curran, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel with 22 years of service, was asked if she thought it matters that men hold a majority of leadership positions in the world.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” she said.  “Early in my Air Force career, my first chief master sergeant told me to always do the best job you can, in the current job you’re in.  After all those years, I realized that by sticking to that advice, I can make a difference and influence people in leadership, regardless of who they are.”

Dale Marks, 96th Test Wing vice-director, gave closing remarks.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the women here today,” he said.  “I sincerely believe that until we can recognize all of the challenges and barriers yet to overcome, we won’t be at the place where we can say we’ve arrived.  I appreciate your efforts to achieve that goal.  When our women succeed, our military succeeds.”