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Women’s History Month: looking around as important as looking back

Salt Lake City --

She’s only seven, but the potential is there. A strong athlete, engaged student, and natural leader; I have no doubt that my daughter could make a difference in tomorrow’s Air Force. Exactly what that Air Force will look like more than a decade from now is anyone’s guess, but one thing’s definitive -- it will be as diverse as it is agile, powerful, and professional. Her opportunities will only continue to expand, and gender-based obstacles will fade even further into the rearview mirror.   

Women’s History Month is celebrated in lockstep with the notion that incorporating a spectrum of experiences, opinions, and talents helps to strengthen our capabilities in the workplace, as well as in our personal lives. Looking back is of course an important part of honoring women’s heritage, but I’d argue that “looking around” is just as imperative.  

When I look around, at work, I see the first female commander of the Utah Air National Guard leading based on a set of distinct capabilities that are completely irrespective of gender. In my community, I see women encouraging one another through collaboration and dynamic partnerships. In our schools, I see educators highlighting both the well-known and emerging pioneers of women’s advancement. What’s more, when I look around, I see husbands, fathers, grandfathers, brothers, and uncles championing the women in their lives by offering support and encouragement rooted in genuine respect.

Whether my daughter eventually chooses to serve her country in uniform, or not, I hope she’ll realize that value within an organization is based on dedication, not demographics. It’s exciting to know the limits are as boundless as her interests and enthusiasm. Growing up, as she looks around and decides her mark on the world, she’ll witness countless additional examples of women making incredible contributions to every facet of everyday life. And of course, she’ll see me, and just as importantly, her father and brothers cheering wildly from the sidelines.