Home News-Free Barksdale symposium focuses on retaining female airmen

Barksdale symposium focuses on retaining female airmen

Lt. Gen. Stayce Harris speaks during the Air Force Global Strike Command Women’s Leadership Symposium at Barksdale Air Force Base Wednesday. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

By Stacey Tinsley, stinsley@bossierpress.com

Barksdale turned its attention to retaining female airmen with a special symposium Wednesday.

Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) held their second annual AFGSC Women’s Leadership Symposium (WLS) at Barksdale Air Force Base from November 13-14.

The mission of this year’s symposium was to educate AFGSC Airmen on the importance of retaining female warfighters through acknowledging diversity as a force-multiplier and developing talent.

“We have gathered airmen from across the nation with different careers, ranks, backgrounds and experiences to not only come together, but to provide them this educational experience. Just the mere presence of being surrounded by women, especially for women that are in careers that are male dominated, is extremely powerful. It’s empowering to see what you could become,” said Event Coordinator Maj. Kristine Poblete.

Lt. Gen. Stayce Harris (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

Today, women make up only 20 percent of the total Air Force. As rank increases in the overall military force, the number of women significantly decreases.

Keynote speakers included Brigadier Gen. Wilma Vaught and Lt. Gen. Stayce Harris, educated around 200 airmen on how to reverse that trend.

In 2016, Lt. Gen. Harris became the first black female Lieutenant General in the history of the United States Air Force.

“We really are a community. Weather you are active duty, guard or reserve, you come back into the guard or reserve because of that sense of community, because you still had that proficiency to serve. You love those you serve with, you love the mission of defending our nation and you continue to do that. It just makes me very, very proud,” Harris says.

Event Coordinator Maj. Kristine Poblete

The symposium was designed to provide women an opportunity to discuss issues that affect them, leadership roles, and learn about ways to create more diverse and inclusive environments within the Air Force.

The symposium focused on three main objectives:

1) Enable interactive dialogue addressing retention and with an emphasis on building teams that are resilient, innovative, diverse and inclusive

2) Provide purposeful resources and leadership methods for addressing women’s issues in the workplace

3) Create new mentoring relationships and networking opportunities to further cultivate talent in our force.

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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.