This topic made me stop and think. I have always been used to functioning in mostly male groups. I chose to play on boy’s sports teams until they made me join the girl’s teams. I always naturally gravitated towards being friends with boys growing up and didn’t have as many girl friends.
The Army seemed like a natural fit for me, given it is still a male dominated field. I am pleasantly surprised by all the female friends I have made over the years, because it wasn’t something I expected to happen.
I think most tips on being successful apply to male and female officers alike, but here are my five tips for being a female officer or Soldier in the Army.
# 1 Have a sense of humor – I don’t mean to joke around all the time and not get any work done. Soldiers love knowing their officers are human beings too, and willing and able to laugh at themselves and the world around them. We aren’t robots and shouldn’t act like them!
# 2 Grow a thick skin – This is true for everyone, but particularly useful for females. I am the only female officer in the squadron (I don’t count the cadets), and while that doesn’t bother me, some people might have a hard time with something like that. Not all of my peers jump to be my friend or a helping hand, and I have had to get used to that.
# 3 Focus on your job – That being said, if you focus on your job, usually everything else falls into place. Being an officer is a little more lonely than being enlisted, but that’s the way it is. I struggled with that at first, because I was always used to being around a lot of my peers all the time, but it radically changed when I commissioned.
# 4 Find additional duties that suit your talents and passions – If you’re like me and serving in a traditional slot for a LT and in a traditional branch like Quartermaster, seek out additional duties that you will enjoy doing and set you apart. Some additional duties will get handed to you whether you want them or not (like Squadron FSO and UMO, for example). I have sought out training for Master Resiliency Trainer and am going to the Casualty Assistance Officer/Notification Officer course. I think that duty would be a huge honor and responsibility that is outside of my normal scope. If we deploy, I would seek to do public affairs for the unit/squadron as another additional duty in order to build on things I already like to do.
# 5 Be a mentor to other female Soldiers – Mentoring can happen between anybody, but there will be females that seek you out for guidance because you are a female too. I have a few very special mentors that are male, but I also consider myself lucky to have a few female mentors that I can look up to as I continue my journey. They provide a different kind of mentoring that my male mentors just can’t.
Being a female officer is a unique opportunity for mentoring and setting a good example. Break down the barriers, and don’t be afraid to be yourself.
What are your thoughts? What are some of the best career tips that you could offer female officers? Leave a comment below to let us know what you think. I look forward to hearing from you.