NORFOLK, Va. (March 8, 2019) – NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Transformation Headquarters, alongside the Norfolk NATO Festival, recognised International Women’s Day during an Innovation Thru Inclusion Conference in downtown Norfolk on March 8.

General Andre Lanata, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, provided opening remarks for the event, highlighting the importance of doing more for women in the workplace and throughout NATO. He emphasized that women are underrepresented in the fields of science and technology, and women, like men, must be afforded the same opportunities in order to equally contribute to the Alliance’s innovation efforts for defensive capabilities. Inclusion helps ensure innovation in diverse organisations like NATO.

The Innovation Thru Inclusion Conference welcomed several guest speakers, including Dr. Christine Darden, an American mathematician, data analyst and aeronautical engineer who was featured in the book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race (2016) by Margot Lee Shetterly.

Additional speakers included the NATO Defense College Commandant Lt. Gen. Chris Whitecross, the Dean of Old Dominion University’s Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology Dr. Stephanie Adams, and NATO Allied Command Transformation Chief of Staff Vice Adm. Paul Bennett.

During the panel discussion, the four members provided perspectives on challenges women face in civilian and military work environments, especially in regards to marriage and raising a family. Conversations touched on the importance of collaboration between both men and women, and how inclusivity improves innovation and problem solving.

Dr. Darden introduced her “Four Ps” and how perceiving, planning, preparing and persisting helped drive personal and team initiatives throughout her 40-year career in aerodynamics at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Lt. Gen. Whitecross, as the most senior military woman in the Canadian Military Engineers, emphasized how women must embrace the fact that there are women in all career fields. Women who are more experienced need to inspire, guide and listen, as well as encourage women to be authentic and to be themselves.

Dr. Adams stressed that women today need to continue to be bold and empower the next generation of women. All women should understand their “fight” and join together to strengthen the future of women.

Vice Adm. Bennett addressed NATO’s diversity and inclusion policy and articulated its impressive framework for the NATO workplace. NATO, as well as many organisations, need to be willing to change in order to adopt and embrace inclusiveness.

International Women’s Day was not only a day and platform where the NATO Alliance expressed its appreciation of and gratitude towards all women, but also a day of acknowledgement for the work done by women serving its ranks every day. As a political-military organization with 29 nations and several partners, NATO benefits from the exceptional diversity of its staff comprised of women, men, military, civilians and international interns.

As one of NATO’s two strategic commands, Headquarters Supreme Allied Commander Transformation has been located in the United States since its inception in 2003. The city of Norfolk, and the region as a whole, serve as exceptional hosts to military and civilian personnel from 34 allied and partner nations. As the warfare development command for NATO, Allied Command Transformation’s mission is to contribute to preserving the peace, security and territorial integrity of Alliance member states by leading the transformation efforts of military structures, forces, capabilities and doctrines.