May 24, 2012

Women’s summit opens eyes of female Marines

Cpl. Aaron Diamant
Desert Warrior Staff
Photo by Cpl. Aaron Diamant
Cpl. Margaret Madera, left, a Marine Attack Squadron 311 airframe mechanic, speaks with Sgt. Maj. Irene O’Neal, the Marine Aircraft Group 13 sergeant major, during the women’s summit at the Sonoran Pueblo, May 15.

Many of the station’s female Marines gathered with a few of their male counterparts for an awareness summit, May 15.

Women make up only six percent of the Corps, but despite their small numbers, make a large difference in the institution.

While there were several presentations from valuable resources on station, the main goal of the gathering was to learn from one another and become better mentors for one another, said Sgt. Maj. Irene O’Neal, Marine Aircraft Group 13 sergeant major.

The attendees learned a lot from the 27-year veteran.

“All of us in here joined the same institution, so we should all be treated equally,” said O’Neal. “And believe me; the Corps has come a long way in 27 years.”

O’Neal tried joining the Corps at 16. After being told she was too young, the recruiter asked if she had any older siblings. O’Neal’s older brother was graduating high school that year, so she gave the recruiter her brother’s information. He enlisted that summer.

After finally becoming old enough, O’Neal told her brother she still wanted to enlist.

“’Don’t do it’ he told me. And can you guess why?” O’Neal asked her audience. “It was because he knew how women in the Corps were treated at that time.”

O’Neal enlisted anyway, and has risen to the top of the enlisted ranks, and will soon become the sergeant major for the Inspector General of the Marine Corps.

“I want all of you to see what you’re capable of,” said O’Neal, pointing to the several senior enlisted women in the room. “You young Marines, both men and women, are the future of the Corps.”

After the presentations, there were small group discussions, each led by a female senior enlisted Marine.

“This is what the Corps is,” said O’Neal to her group. “A brotherhood, a sisterhood. Without this, the Corps wouldn’t be what it is today. I guarantee that at some point, you’ll need one another, and you have to be there for each other.”

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