SAN DIEGO – Southwest Regional Maintenance Center (SWRMC) hosted their first Women at Work Panel on Nov. 5.
“This panel provided an opportunity to start the dialogue and have some of the tough conversations that are needed to build an inclusive team,” said Craig Cunningham, SWRMC’s acting Executive Director. “It is a great step to ensure we are leveraging talent from our entire workforce to provide superior support to the Navy and the warfighter.”
The panel consisted of five women and two men from SWRMC, a mix of military and civilian, which allowed for a variety of perspectives to be shared. The topics included sharing experiences related to work-life balance, the importance of role models, what it means to be an ally, and addressing the challenges created by gaps in mentorship.
Lt. Cmdr. Rebecca Adams shared some insight on work-life balance from the perspective of a dual military family with children, “For our family, it is important that our daughters get to see it’s not just dad who gets to pursue his goals, but mom does too. And that mom didn’t let fear stop her from raising her hand and contributing at the work place.”
On the topic of role models, Monique Kadmiri, SWRMC’s first female chief engineer, detailed the impact role models have had on her career path, “I started my career through involvement in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program at my school. Seeing other women involved in this program, setting the example, was pivotal to setting me on my career path. We need to encourage each other towards careers in STEM fields to make seeing women in these programs and in engineering positions the norm, not the exception.”
“We need to focus on building each other up as women, not tearing each other down,” added Petty Officer 2nd Class Hilary Ruff, when sharing about her involvement in the Women at Sea program on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). “When we focus on that, we can find we have more in common than we thought and we can accomplish more together.”
Joe Willis, an Army veteran, discussed the importance of being an ally in the workplace, “As men, we need to talk about what we notice, bring women to the table and value their perspectives. We need to focus on being better advocates in the workplace through our conversations to bring about change.”
When discussing mentors, Chief Rebecca Brown encouraged military and civilian to look at the people in their career field that are “where you want to be, operating with integrity and seek their mentorship. They don’t have to be in your organization, but they have to be accessible to you.”
“Men need to be comfortable mentoring women,” added Adams. “We all need to be comfortable lifting each other up.”
SWRMC hosts several Lean-In Circles throughout the command to allow for employees to continue the discussion. These groups, supported by the Department of Defense, allow for women and men to build community, skills, and strive to help each other meet their goals.
SWRMC is meeting its mission to provide superior ship maintenance, modernization, technical support, and training for the Pacific Fleet.
For more information on SWRMC, please visit https://www.navsea.navy.mil/Home/RMC/SWRMC.