Article by MIDN 4/C Aiden Schertz and Photo by MIDN 1/C Faith Huynh
In the last Future Female Officer meeting we had the great opportunity to talk to Lt. Col. Ott from AFROTC Detachment 365. Lt. Col. Ott started the meeting by summarizing her progression in the Air Force from when she was a cadet at MIT herself, to working alongside Gen. Mattis at CENTCOM, to becoming the Commanding Officer of her alma mater. It was clear that she had learned several valuable lessons through her diverse experiences which included flying F-16s and working in Korea, Tunisia, and Germany.
The topics that we discussed ranged from leadership challenges that females face in the military to the value of being a female in the military. Lt. Col. Ott offered some good advice on how to diffuse situations in which double standards may appear while remaining professional. We also discussed how the military differs from other organizations in its unique status as a pure meritocracy.
Lt. Col. Ott also addressed relationships and family planning while in the military. She talked about her own experiences and what worked or did not work for her and other military personnel she interacted with. She repeatedly made the point that no one works alone in this career field. It is important to seek advice and mentorship because there is always something to be learned from others.
Overall, it was a successful discussion that included seven female cadets and eleven female midshipmen from both the MIT and BU side. Joint meetings with the Air Force are unusual, however, discussing females in leadership roles is important regardless of service. The most important thing I took away from our meeting was that, ultimately, gender does not define anyone. Being a good leader has nothing to do with what someone is—cadet or midshipman, male or female—and everything to do with how they act. If a person works hard and respects those working above, below, and alongside them, they will gain the respect they deserve.