The Air Force Struggles With Diversity. Can The Space Force Do Any Better?
The newest branch of the military just promoted its first female three star general. The US Space Force also recently appointed the nation's first all women space operations team. Top space force leaders say gender and racial diversity is a core part of the mission. But his Colorado public Radio's Dan Boyce reports, some female veterans are skeptical. First Lieutenant Kelly McKay serves with the all female Space Operation Squadron stationed at Schriever Air Force Base near Colorado Springs, The squadron command's one of the country's GPS satellites. I obviously never gotten work on all female crew for these were women that I've I wanted to work with their close friends of mine and co workers. The work of the space force is almost entirely digital Space Force members operates satellites and other national space assets from computers down on Earth. Lieutenant McKay says an all female squadron makes a bold statement for the military's news branch. I'm hoping that women will see that they have more opportunities, and they might have realized growing up as long as they're actively seeking out the women to come there. They have a great opportunity to be the the service that leads the way Don Christensen is president of the nonprofit Protect Our Defenders. The group focuses on reducing discrimination in the military. The space force grew out of the Air Force last December, Christensen says It's continuing the airforce tradition of a better gender balance than the other branches. But he worries the space force could continue another worrisome course when it comes to racial disparity there force with worst in analyzing military data Person's sins team found black airman 70% more likely than their white peers to get court martialed or receive other punishments. The air Force is own data shows that trend getting worse in recent years. Nevertheless, in just the last few months a couple of milestones confirmation of the first Black Air Force Academy superintendent and then the first black Air Force chief of staff General Charles Q. Brown Jr. Here's Brown's own candid assessment of the challenges ahead. I can't fix centuries of racism in our country, nor can I fixed decades, discrimination may have impacted members of our Air force. How much to make of these nominations depends on who you talk to. While we're very proud of gentle brown. It's It's so even Pacheco is a recently retired air force commanding officer. Photo op Shea. We like, like people. We like minority. Yea, we promoted on so don't complain anymore, okay? And we're like, Okay, So what? We want to see his action. What policies? Are you going to drive? What changes? Are you going to drive? She argues the ways to report discrimination in the space force are all inherited from Thie Air Force. And if you don't restructuring I honestly I don't. I'm not sure that you'll be able to restructure. I don't know. I just think they might continue get away with it. Unfortunately. Pacheco says As discrimination charges work their way up the chain of command senior officers often suppress reports to avoid looking bad themselves. They're going to be shaped to encourage honest communication, the space force's chief diversity and inclusion. Officer Carrie Baker says They've already placed heavy emphasis on developing open minded leaders and pushing them to learn about unconscious biases, even to the point where one should be careless enough to Speaks to their leadership about concerns that they have without concern of retribution. Baker says. The space force has targeted outreach initiatives to recruit women and people of color. Keep your eye on us. We're going to make you proud Tanya would nightie professional. They're working for the department defense for about 20 years, Tanya would lives in San Antonio, Texas. For years, she worked as an Air Force intelligence analyst, a job similar to the desk bound rolls found in the space force today would who's Black says misogyny and racism were rampant? Not getting a fair seat at the table, having to prove myself constantly having to prove my technical ability Trying to prove how smart I am. If if you will constantly challenged by my male colleagues, she's pleased to hear about that new all female space force team. She's still not sure it's a sign of systemic change. She compares the all female crew to the Tuskegee Airman, Those heralded black fighter pilots from World War two. That was an experiment. But was it sustainable? You know, do we still have that level of diversity? Now? She wonders if the space force doesn't address fundamental challenges involving race and gender. Will those experiments ever lead to anything beyond history? Making headlines for NPR news? I'm Dan Boys in Colorado Springs.