Commentary: Cannon celebrates Women’s History Month

By Tech. Sgt. Melinda Morris: 27th Special Operations Wing Equal Opportunity

Something that many people may not know about me is that I grace the Community College of the Air Force marketing poster. You may have seen my likeness as you went through a leadership school and thought I looked familiar. Friends still email me to see if it really is me on the poster.

The poster is only the tip of my achievement. I hold two CCAF degrees, a bachelor’s degree and I am also currently enrolled in my master’s degree program. However, the month of March is not about me. It is about the pioneers that came before me, opening the doors for the right to women’s education.

The 2012 theme for Women’s History Month is “Women’s Education — Women’s Empowerment.” Women’s History Month is a Department of Defense-recognized special observance that recognizes the contributions and achievements of all women to the American culture and to increase awareness, mutual respect and understanding.

Women didn’t always have the right to an education in America. After the American Revolution, the notion of education as a safeguard for democracy created opportunities. The premise that, as mothers, women would nurture not only the bodies but also the minds of male citizens and leaders was based largely on ideals of that era.

Women’s courses of study were often different from men’s, and women’s role models were often few. Section 1681: Sex of the Title IX Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits gender discrimination by federally funded institutions.

According to a recent article in the National Women’s History Project, women are now outnumbering men in American colleges.

According to Air Force Personnel Center, the Air Force’s strength is 328,423 active duty personnel, 64,268 officers and 264,155 enlisted as of December 2011. According to a 2011 career report more than 72,800 enlisted members have an associate, bachelor of arts or science, graduate or doctorate degree which equates to roughly 28 percent of enlisted members, both men and women.

Female enlisted members didn’t have the opportunity to be a part of those numbers three to four generations ago. I am very proud to be a part of that monumental achievement and encourage all Air Commandos regardless of gender to take advantage of the opportunities they have as benefits of being in this great Air Force.