Fort George G. Meade, Md –
The Defense Information Systems Agency and Joint Force Headquarters - Department of Defense Information Network held a Women’s Equality Day Observance and Celebration August 17 to celebrate progress, highlight challenges, and inspire a future of inclusivity for women across the Department of Defense.
The commemoration was hosted by the combined DISA/JFHQ-DODIN Women’s Employee Resource Group. Women's Equality Day is celebrated in the United States on August 26 to commemorate the 1920 adoption of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits the states and the federal government from denying women the right to vote. It was first celebrated in 1971, designated by Congress in 1973, and is proclaimed each year by the U.S. President.
According to Alysa Harden, the Chair of the DISA/JFHQ-DODIN Women’s ERG, the day commemorates the hard-fought progress made towards achieving gender parity and women’s rights in the United States. She said it not only serves as a reminder of the progress made in achieving women's suffrage but also as an opportunity to reflect on the ongoing struggle for gender equality in various aspects of life.
“Women’s Equity Day serves as a reminder of the hurdles overcome by heroic women to ensure equal opportunities and treatment for women in all aspects of life and emphasizes the significance of continued advocacy for gender equality, empowering women to fully participate in social, political, and economic spheres. Celebration of Women’s Equality Day reaffirms our ongoing commitment to a just and inclusive society where the contributions of women are acknowledged and valued,” she said.
Katrina Logan, the director of DISA’s Workforce Services & Development Directorate said the notion of equal opportunity for women has made strides in recent years, but it is essential to recognize those strides as steppingstone on the path to true inclusivity and fairness.
“I firmly believe that advocating for equal opportunity is a vital first step. But it is not enough to address the complexities and challenges of our evolving workforce and landscape,” she said. “To truly empower women in the workforce and harness our immense potential, we must prioritize the creation of an environment that not only provides opportunities, but also nurtures talent, rewards merit, and embraces diversity and inclusivity.”
Dr. Gerri Alston-Meggett, deputy chief information officer for the U.S. Secret Service and guest speaker at the ceremony said Women's Equality Day is all about women's empowerment and lauded the Agency and Command for celebrating, encouraging and inspiring women.
“As I look around the room, I see a tremendous opportunity for us to learn from and encourage one another. All of us here today stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us. and the next generation of women leaders will stand on our shoulders,” she said. “Women in federal service do more than bring diversity of thought to the mission. We also bring technical expertise, critical thinking, creative problem solving, stalwart organization and planning skills, and a myriad of soft skills such as compassion and patience.”
Alston-Meggett added that equal opportunity is not enough to ensure and guarantee we leave a firm path for the next generation of women leaders. She explained that equal opportunity tells us we can't discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex to include pregnancy, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information, but it does not tell us what we can do to increase opportunities for women in the workforce.
“In addition to equal opportunity laws and policies, we need early intervention in underserved school districts and an expansion of the Pathways program to include middle, high school, and trade school students who already have the acumen and the propensity to do this work,” she said. “We also need government sponsored STEM fairs and Agency-sponsored community outreach with volunteer opportunities built in. If we can just get to them earlier, I think we could do a lot for bringing women and people of diverse backgrounds into federal service,” she said.
Women's Equality Day reminds us to renew our commitment to the principles of equity and equal opportunity that define who we are as Americans, and who we are as an Agency and Command. The DISA/JFHQ-DODIN commemoration of Women’s Equality Day is a testament to the Agency’s and Command’s dedication to fostering an environment of equality, growth, and empowerment. Through education, dialogue, and celebration, the Women’s ERG paves the way for a future where gender equality is not just an aspiration, but a reality within the organization and beyond.
The DISA/JFHQ-DODIN Women’s ERG plays a pivotal role in fostering an environment of inclusivity, support, and growth for women employees within the command and agency. The ERG functions as a platform for networking, mentorship, and advocacy, allowing women to connect, share experiences, and collaborate on initiatives that drive positive change. Throughout the year, the ERG organizes a range of events and programs aimed at empowering women in their professional journeys. From leadership development workshops and skill-building seminars to panel discussions featuring accomplished women leaders, the ERG actively contributes to the career advancement and personal growth of its members.
Joint Force Headquarters – Department of Defense information Network is the U.S. Cyber Command component that leads DoD’s unified force approach to network operations, security, and defense across the Department of Defense Information Network, commonly known as the DODIN. This global command and control responsibility underpinning all DoD missions works to ensure mission assurance and bolster DoD’s competitive advantage. The Command’s mission covers a broad range of activities on behalf of U.S. Cyber Command including proactive, threat-informed steps to reduce cyber risk across the DODIN, and leading response to attacks against the DODIN to ensure network operations remain agile and resilient. The JFHQ-DODIN commander, Lt. Gen Robert Skinner, is dual-hatted as the director of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA).