By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class J.C.J. Stokes
YOKOSUKA, Japan (March 26, 2015) – Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) celebrated Women’s History Month with a ceremony on the ship’s mess decks, March 26.
In keeping with the Department of Defense and Naval tradition of promoting diversity, George Washington’s Naval History and Heritage Committee organized an afternoon event where Capt. Julie Schroeder, assistant chief of staff for Command, Control, Computers and Communication, Task Force 70, served as guest speaker.
“I think it’s important to show all Sailors, especially brand new Sailors whether they are male or female, that we have female leaders in the enlisted and officer ranks,” said Schroeder. “I have had Sailors come up to me and say that they have never seen a female captain before, so me being here today is a way for me to show them that we are out here, especially on [an aircraft carrier].”
From the middle of the 19th century when women first served aboard a Navy hospital ship to today, where women serve as admirals and submariners, women have made significant contributions to our Navy. Women now serve in the Navy’s ranks including more than 68,000 active and Reserve-force personnel and more than 100 flag officers and senior executives.
Schroeder engaged the audience by asking Sailors about influential Navy leaders like Adm. Michelle Howard, the first female four-star admiral and current vice chief of naval operations, and Rear Adm. Grace Hopper, one of the first females to attain the rank of flag officer and a pioneer in computer technology.
“I really liked the fact that she interacted with the audience by asking questions, giving a little history facts and making people think of their personal career and the impact they could have on future Sailors,” said Religious Programs Specialist 3rd class Kassandra Castaneda.
“When I heard [Capt. Schroeder] ask who Grace Hopper was I quickly raised my hand,” said Aviation Electrician’s Mate Airman Chanel Curbeam. “I was on USS Grace Hopper in boot camp and I would walk past the memorabilia. The presentation made me reflect on the contributions of Adm. Hopper and helped remind me of where I have come from and where I can go.”
Schroeder also stressed the importance of having a strong support system and importance of mentorship in the development of today’s naval leaders.
“When you think great leaders like Michelle Howard, Grace Hopper and JoAnn Ortloff, they all had strong support systems,” said Schroeder. “They had family, a belief system, but most importantly strong mentors.”
“One can never be too young or too old to be a mentor,” added Schroeder. “My niece is 24 years old and she is one of my mentors. She helps keep me up to speed with all the cool new technology going around. It’s important for all of us to remember that an E-1 all the way up to an O-10 can be a mentor to someone. You never know the impact that a person you mentor can have.”