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NEWS | March 31, 2022

Progress through the years: a woman’s perspective

By Airman 1st Class Chloe Shanes Joint Base Langley-Eustis PA

Since women were allowed to serve in the United States military, they have tackled many hurdles and made many sacrifices. Against all odds, women continued to make the same sacrifices as their male counterparts while facing the uphill challenge of being in a male dominated career field and having their voices minimized.


One former federal employee, Patricia Campbell, served in the Department of the Air Force for 46 years – 36 of those years being at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. As a Director of Staff, she saw many changes and overcame many obstacles to get to where she did.


“I was working in administration with the maintenance inspection team, within the logistics directorate, [now ACC/A4],” said Campbell. “At the time, they invited me to accompany them on an inspection. In order to do that, my boss and I had to ask permission from the deputy director for me to go on temporary duty [with them]. Then, I was told very promptly and very clearly, ‘Women do not go TDY.’”


From working under stifling leadership to promoting to a leadership role, Campbell said she broke her glass ceiling and worked hard to achieve her seat at the table.


According to Campbell, even after becoming the first female division chief within Tactical Air Command, there were still times where there was push-back and she felt as if her voice wasn’t heard because she was a woman.


“Those instances did not suppress me,” said Campbell. “If anything, it gave me a challenge. My career was going to be a little bit different.”


Through her perseverance and resiliency, Campbell never gave up. Though she may have felt the pressure from others she worked around, Campbell said that she was a part of the team and her perspective mattered.


“All the meetings I went to were predominantly male,” said Campbell. “Bringing the female perspective for the topics was very productive in that environment. Today, it’s not unusual to find women division chiefs across the command. Women have a lot more opportunity to contribute and bring more perspectives to the table.”


Over the course of her 36-years of dedicated service at JBLE, Campbell aided in the merger of 2 directorates and 1200 people, oversaw approximately $6 billion in global strategic communicating and shaping program activities, and developed a $70 million U.S. government interagency plan to address the Weapon of Mass Destruction proliferation threat.


Campbell saw the environment of the base and the command improve, not just for herself, but for all women as a whole. Before retiring, Campbell explained she had a very impactful and fulfilling career. She received opportunities to travel all around the globe and opened many doors for young women across JBLE, Air Combat Command, and the Air Force.