By L. Cunningham, 55th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 20, 2020
Colonel Sherri LeVan, 55th Wing vice commander, greets the crowd during the annual Offutt Christmas Tree Lighting even held at the Patriot Club, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, Dec. 6, 2018. Col. LeVan was the first woman vice commander in wing history. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger)
From the Library of Congress a 1917 photograph of Mary Winsor in Pennsylvania holds up a sign asking that reads "To ask freedom for women is not a crime" as she protested during the suffrage movement. Image was taken Harris & Ewing photographers from Washington D.C.
Chief Master Sgt. JoAnne S. Bass salutes during the national anthem at the beginning of a transition ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Aug. 14, 2020. Bass succeeded Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright as the 19th chief master sergeant of the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Eric Dietrich)
There is a metaphorical glass ceiling that women have been attempting to shatter for years, where they can be completely equal in how they are treated within society.
The first fracture in this glass ceiling was made 100 years ago by women coming together and lobbying, lecturing, and marching together practicing civil disobedience to achieve the right to vote.
Aug. 18, 1920, Congress ratified the XIX Amendment that stated "the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."
“There have been a lot of strides made in the last few years and a lot of persistence to get us where we currently are,” said Master Sgt. Christian Rodriquez, National Airborne Operations Center. “We need to make sure that we leave this place better, we need to be persistent and continue to make changes.”
Another fracture was added to that ceiling earlier this year on June 19. A new page has been written to military history. Chief Master Sgt. JoAnne S. Bass was selected to become the 19th Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force.
This is the first time in military history that a woman has been chosen to serve in this office previously only held by men. Bass assumed her place in the pages of history Aug. 14, 2020.
Bass joins the ranks of women who serve this country at the glass ceiling level. As of November 2019, there are 101 women in the House of Representatives, and as of January 2020, 26 women in the Senate. Women served on the Supreme Court beginning in 1981 with Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Conner and currently, there are three Associate Judges, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Elena Kagan.
Today women recognize and celebrate Women’s Equality Day on Aug. 26 to remember the past and celebrating the many accomplishments women continue to make in society.
Along the way, there have been many other small cracks. According to the The Women’s Memorial website, women used to disguise themselves during the Civil War to enlist in the army, and during World War II, more than 400,000 served as nurses, pilots, and ambulance drivers.
Women in the military were mainly non-combat roles in medical and operational capacities, until 2013 when combat opened up for women. They compromise approximately 19 percent of active duty in the Air Force, 8 percent in the Marine Corps, 18 percent in the Navy, and 14 percent in the Army.
In 2017, the 55th Wing placed a small fracture onto the ceiling by selecting Col. Sherri LeVan as the first woman vice commander in wing history.
Women in society continue to face sexist remarks, domestic abuse, sexual harassment, gaps in wages and other professional obstacles. Here at Offutt assistance can be provided by the Equal Opportunity office, the Office of Violence Prevention, and the Sexual Assault Response Coordinators office.
“Women in the Air Force continue to set the example, that women are strong, capable and are willing to serve their country alongside men,” Rodriguez said. “Passing their experience and knowledge to their daughters and the young women, the young Airman in their career fields.”