Well behaved women rarely make history

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jessica H. Smith
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs
Growing up, I was never told I couldn’t do something because I was a girl – that I had to be a teacher or a nurse, a mother or a caregiver. I was always told I could grow up to be whatever I wanted – whether it be a ballerina or a badass – I never worried about my gender defining my life decisions. 

As Women’s History month comes to an end, I take a moment to reflect and realize why I and most young women of my generation never faced those worries. 

For many generations before me, women have been working toward making sure every little girl has all the confidence and every opportunity to be whatever she sets her mind to. 

As a photojournalist I have many literary inspirations to be grateful for.

The Bronte sisters who some consider the greatest novelists of our time, first published their works under male pseudonyms to have their stories better heard. 

Anne Newport Royall was considered “the first American newspaper woman” and challenged the typical role of women in the press industry – a significant reason why I’m able to write in this moment.

Murguerit Higgins was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for war correspondence for her front line coverage in Korea – an accomplishment I dream of. 

As an Airman I appreciate the many women who have proven their worth in a “man’s place.”

During the 1700’s in Europe, women disguised themselves as men to serve in times of war. Throughout the years their military footprint grew larger and larger. 

Women began serving as nurses, mechanics and even pilots in the United States military during the 1940’s. 

By 1948, women were allowed to serve as permanent members of the military rather than just during times of war.

In the early 1990’s, women were authorized to fly in combat missions and serve on combat ships – as an infant, these women were changing my life without even realizing it.

By 2004, then, Col. Linda McTague, became the first U.S. Air Force fighter squadron commander.

In the midst of making my decision to enlist in 2013, then, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced the military’s combat exclusion policy will be rescinded – the inspiration has no end. 

As the celebration of Women’s History month comes to an end, I realize there’s still progress to be made to ensure every little sister has the opportunity to be as accomplished as her big brother and that every daughter can follow in her father’s footsteps. I can only hope that I and other women of my generation can make as significant an impact as the women before us. 

Edna Gardner Whyte, an aviation pioneer once said, “Just watch, all of you men. I’ll show you what a woman can do.”