Commentary: WiLD panel allows Team Tinker women to share professional, personal advice

  • Published
  • By Sasha Gaddis
  • 72nd Air Base Wing Affirmative Employment Program

As part of Women’s History Month, the 72nd Air Base Wing’s Women’s Initiative Team held a Women in Leadership Discussion (WiLD) panel here March 12.

Panelists Col. Abby Ruscetta, 72nd Air Base Wing and Tinker Installation commander, Lt. Col. Jaclyn McCormick, 960th Airborne Air Control Squadron commander, Wendy Walden, Air Force Sustainment Center director of staff, and Crystal Heard, 38th Cyberspace Engineering Installation Group deputy director, provided inspiration to the more than 100 who attended in person and online.

Women in leadership are essential because of their unique perspective and approach. Women bring different experiences, ideas, and strategies to the table, which can lead to more well-rounded decision-making and problem-solving. Research has consistently shown that diversity of thought leads to better outcomes and innovation, and having women in leadership positions contributes to this diversity.

Women in leadership also serve as role models, inspiring others to break barriers and pursue their ambitions. By seeing women in positions of power, young girls and women are encouraged to believe in themselves and their abilities. This, in turn, helps to challenge and break down traditional gender norms, paving the way for a more equal and inclusive society. This fact was a major reasoning for holding the WiLD panel.

Audience members asked a variety of questions including what advice the panelists would give to women to use in their personal as well as professional lives.

“Use your voice,” Walden said. “You have something to say and what you have to say is important and relevant to the conversation. It does you no good or the organization no good for you to remain quiet. Use your voice!”

When asked about the long-lasting relationship that Heard built with her leaders during her 28 years of service at Tinker AFB, Heard said, “Stand up and advocate for yourself in a respectful way, and be sure to own your mistakes.

Despite the progress that has been made, women continue to face numerous barriers in reaching leadership positions. These barriers include gender bias, limited access to networking opportunities, and a lack of representation in decision-making processes. Addressing these challenges requires concerted efforts from individuals, organizations, and governments. Implementing policies that promote gender equality, providing mentorship and sponsorship programs, and fostering inclusive work environments are just a few ways to support and encourage women in leadership roles.