Military News

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Women's Equality Day: Ladies fueling the fight

by Senior Airman Kate Thornton
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

8/26/2015 - RAF MILDENHALL, England  -- It's been 95 years since the 19th Amendment to the U.S. constitution was ratified, granting women the right to vote, and Aug. 26 remains a day of celebration as Women's Equality Day.

Nearly a century later, some women continue to fuel their equality by refueling planes 30,000 feet in the air.

Female boom operators from the 351st Air Refueling Squadron make an impact on current training and operations all over the world almost every day - just like their male counterparts.

"(Being in a male dominant career) isn't anything I notice, because I look around and my only thought is 'these are the people I work with,'" said Senior Airman Amy Lizauckas, 351st ARS boom operator.

Staff Sgt. Catherine Norcom, 351st ARS instructor boom operator, explained how this is a day to celebrate coming a long way from where women were all those decades ago. She celebrates by wearing her flight suit with pride.

"I think it's important that people see women in flight suits and uniform, because there are so few of us," said Norcom. "It really sets an example."

The 351st ARS has four female boom operators out of the 36 total assigned, but they agree that everyone is held to the same standard.

"When we're being evaluated, they're not basing it off our gender, they're basing it off our performance," said Norcom.

"I think you just go to work, do your job and don't even have to think about it," Lizauckas added.

Although they're treated equally, there are some situations they find themselves in that males don't even think about. Norcom and Lizauckas listed things they, and other female booms, have had to worry about at some point in their careers:

"What do I do with my flight suit when I use the bathroom?"

"Is the toilet working on the jet?"

"Is there toilet paper on the jet?"

"Can I wear an underwire bra or will it melt to my body in the event of a fire?"

The last one received the reply of "If your bra is melting to your body, the material wouldn't save you anyway."

They're small issues and easy to work around according to the ladies, but they both agree that more women in the career field would be helpful for mentoring young female Airmen and answering questions that males might not have the answer to.

"I think it's strange that it's male dominated, because there's nothing specifically masculine about this job," Lizauckas said.

Women have progressed and are still striving not to be better than men, but to be seen as equal human beings. With all the advances in politics, military, science and education, there is still some concern as to whether or not women are truly equal. The female boom operators seem to think so.

"I'm an equal part of the aircrew when I fly and I'm an equal part of the squadron when I come to work every day," said Norcom.

The successful passage of the 19th Amendment marked a crucial milestone in the fight for women's equality in the U.S., and so did the designation of Aug. 26 as Women's Equality Day in remembrance of women's suffrage and the continuing efforts toward women's equality in the U.S.

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