Four Women of Color Make History as Navy Commanders | 22 Words

4 female officers have made a historic stride for women of color in the Navy this week.

Here's the full story...

Now, the U.S. military has long had an issue with discrimination and equality.

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It will come as no surprise to most of us - particularly us women - that there has been an ongoing gender bias across all sectors of the military.

As of 2018, roughly 1.29 million people had enrolled in the U.S. military...

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But only sixteen percent of these were women, statistics found.

Admittedly, women's roles in the military have gradually been expanding over the years...

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Back in the 1970s when women were first allowed to enlist, they were restricted to primarily administrative jobs.

But, in 2015, the former Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, announced that women will be integrated into previously closed combat jobs and training...

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Which, of course, was a huge step in the right direction.

And now, there has been a groundbreaking development within the U.S. Navy...

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And it could very well change the future of aspiring female recruits forever.

While fifteen women have previously held the prestigious position of brigade commander in the US Naval Academy...

None of them have been women of color.

Well, until now they haven't.

​Commander Jones, Commander Simpson, Commander O'Cañas, and Commander Wijnaldum are the trailblazing officers who will lead warships at the same time for the first time in Naval history.

NBC Nightly News

​The women, who are all based at the Norfolk Naval Station in Norfolk, Virginia, sat down for an interview with NBC Nightly News, where they discussed how much has changed for women in the service and their hopes for the next generation.

Commander Jones, who joined the Navy in 1999, recalled:

NBC Nightly News

"[The Navy] looks different in the fact that as an ensign, I looked around and, at that time, there were not many senior female officers that I could necessarily go to for gender-specific questions."

"I may not have felt comfortable asking my male boss," she continued.

NBC Nightly News

"Now, to their credit, they were phenomenal leaders. However, when it came time [for] some of those more intimate conversations on how to plan your career with a family, as a mom, that did not exist."

For Commander Simpson, she detailed how she was never personally discouraged from achieving her goals but didn't have many female leaders to look up to or emulate.

NBC Nightly News

But despite that, Simpson says she's hopeful for the future of women in the service.

"The Navy has been very supportive of my journey and my professional training. There weren't any voices in the Navy that said that I could not achieve this goal," Simpson says. "The only limitation was the fact that women as a whole hadn't been on board combatant vessels until I believe, it was 1994."

Congratulations, Commander Jones, Commander Simpson, Commander O'Cañas, and Commander Wijnaldum!​

NBC Nightly News

You can check out their full interview here.