Celebrating Women’s History Month: Why Representation Matters in the Military

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kristen Heller
  • 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Struggle isn’t always apparent. The adversity women face in a predominantly male profession can be daunting, even if it isn’t plain to see. There’s equity, equality, and discrimination that have remained obvious concerns for women’s suffrage for decades. One issue not often realized is representation and its critical role in promoting diversity and inclusivity.

Senior Master Sgt. Diana Rogers, 35th Explosive Ordnance Disposal superintendent, was astounded to learn that a young woman going through the initial EOD training course looked to Rogers as her role model.

“It was such a humbling moment to be able to speak with her, knowing that I inspire people I haven’t even met simply because I exist,” said Rogers.

When Rogers first enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, as a young female Airman, she felt she didn’t have many women that she could look to for guidance, especially in her career field where women are drastically under-represented.

Historically, women have made up a minority of the military population, especially in combat roles. Despite progress made in recent years, as of 2021, women still only made up approximately 10% of the Air Force’s EOD career field.

Rogers recalls, "when I was trying to make Master Sgt., I remember telling my old flight chief that I didn't really have any female senior leader role models to look up to, and he said ‘I guess you better get promoted and change that.’”

That was a wakeup call for Rogers, reinforcing her commitment to rising through the ranks. In a rare happening in the EOD career field, Rogers was selected for promotion to Chief Master Sgt., becoming the first female E-9 in EOD in over 30 years!

Rogers expressed that her promotion to the rank of chief is not just about having more women in leadership roles, but it is about the importance of the tangible representation of what’s possible for women, giving other women someone with whom to connect.

"I have never been too interested in reading any of the books on the Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force reading list,” said Rogers. “That is until CMSAF Bass.”

“I can't really explain how powerful that was for me to see a woman as the senior enlisted leader of any service."

For women in the military, representation can shape their goals and aspirations. While some may initially focus on excelling in their role, they may also feel a responsibility to pave the way for future generations of women as they advance further in their career.

Rogers noted, "I'm focused on ensuring all individuals in my flight are as prepared as they can be for future threats, but I'm also making space to ensure that I'm giving back to the women in EOD."

The importance of representation in the military is that it aids in creating a culture of diversity and inclusivity.

"We want to leave a better environment for all EOD Airmen," Rogers stated. “By promoting representation and diversity, we can create a stronger, more resilient military for all.”

“It’s important to aspire to be someone that you would want to look up to because one day, someone will look up to you.”