HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Editor's note: Part 1 of 3 part series
A New Year’s resolution for most would be to lose weight, go back to school, become a more outgoing person or to stop procrastinating. For Ashley, Jan. 1, 2006 was the day her life would change forever. She made a phone call to her local U.S. Air Force recruiting office and asked what was the earliest date she could ship out. The recruiter replied with a swift one month and Ashley was sold.
Ashley, now Staff Sgt. Ashley Weiss, a sensor operator instructor assigned to the 9th Attack Squadron at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., has been in the service for 11 years and is a part of the fourteen percent of active-duty women in the U.S. military.
“The implementation of women in the military has had a major positive impact, the mix of ideas and abilities is really good,” said Weiss.
Weiss went into basic training with an open mechanics listing and wanted any job that allowed for her to work with her hands.
“I grew up around a lot of guys who worked on cars so I worked on cars and really liked it,” Weiss said.
During her time as an aircraft maintainer, Weiss experienced some gender stereotypes from her male coworkers.
“When I was in aircraft maintenance I was told so many times that women don’t belong in maintenance but it was something I enjoyed and worked really hard at,” Weiss said. “When I worked on aircraft there were certain places that only my hands could fit to fix it while everyone else’s hands were too big. I found it funny because it was like, ‘see you need me now,’ so that was interesting.”
Even a few stereotypes couldn’t stop Weiss from returning to work with a smile on her face.
“I really enjoyed seeing my final products when I was in aircraft maintenance,” Weiss said. “They made me proud and I loved my job.”
Weiss believes that sometimes women have to work a lot harder to be recognized just as much as their male counterparts but agrees that women are a major advantage in the Air Force.
“My advice for women in the Air Force or women in predominantly male career fields, is to definitely work as hard as you can and push through all of the things we had to push through,” Weiss said. “I had to push through a lot. Understand that you have to have thick skin and find someone that you could talk to when that thick skin isn’t enough.”