Tinker's 552nd Air Control Wing hosts women's outreach summit

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Kaseyann Cornwall
  • 552nd Air Control Wing

The 552nd Air Control Wing’s Women’s Initiative Team hosted Tinker Air Force Base’s first women’s summit Sep. 26 at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame to promote science, technology, engineering and math and rated careers to local students and celebrate female aviators.

The summit's theme was "Breaking Barriers, building bridges: empowering women in leadership."

The event featured two keynote speakers, the first being retired Gen. Lori Robinson, the first woman combatant commander of the United States Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, and a former commander of the 552nd ACW. Col. Kristen Thompson, the first female 55th Wing commander also spoke.

Additionally, two separate panels of women from Tinker Air Force Base and an all-women team from Oklahoma State University supplied various STEM activities to include robotics, circuit building, virtual reality, 3D printing and lip gloss making.

“The 552nd ACW has a history of female aviators, STEM professionals, and leaders. We are honored to continue that legacy today and hope to inspire you with the passion and accomplishments of the women here,” said Col. Kenneth Voigt, the commander of the 552nd ACW.

The nearly 100 summit attendees received much advice on navigating discrimination, equality, shattering barriers, and glass ceilings.

"Having the courage to be willing to engage in awkward conversations is really important," said Col. Abigail Ruscetta, the commander of 72nd Air Base Wing. She shared this advice to empower attendees who experience discriminatory situations.

Robinson, shared that it’s incumbent on leaders and Airmen to treat everyone as equals. She encouraged leaders and Airmen to teach each other how to accomplish this.

“Be the best that you can be, and do your job well,” said Robinson. Adding, that it is vital to create a diverse team to achieve success.

“Do well, work hard, and be proud. The Air Force is the best choice for a career,” said retired Maj. Suzanne Dunn-Howard, the first female Airborne Warning and Control System crew members. Dunn-Howard, a Gulf War Veteran supported NORAD in Alaska and NATO missions over Europe.

Female leaders and aviators are needed to sustain the future of Tinker Air Force Base and the Air Force mission. The Air Force has the highest percentage of women, with approximately 21% of the force being female; however, the Air Force would welcome more females to join. Women bring a different perspective to the table, enabling the Air Force to adapt for the future.

“My favorite part of the summit was hearing all the guest speakers and their experience with their journey of becoming in their positions in the Air Force,” said Airman Stephanie Williams, an E-3 avionics apprentice with the 552nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

To learn more about how to join the Air Force visit the 349th Recruiting Squadron’s page, click here.