Top performing women can rise through military’s ranks

“It takes time to grow an admiral. It takes the right experiences, and it takes consistency throughout the career as well,” said retired Rear Adm. Janice Hamby, chancellor of the National Defense University.

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Retired Rear Adm. Janice Hamby

Speaking of the climate in today’s Navy, Hamby said, “Leadership absolutely wants the very best performers. And when that best performer is a woman, she’s going to get that position.”

“What we’re seeing now is that enough women have come through the years and the experiences that they actually can be promoted to that rank. So, if we were to suddenly put in the mandate to up the percentage (of female Flag Officers) to 30 percent, that would not be the right answer,” she said.

Women of Washington asked Hamby to comment on how the Navy could encourage more women into its upper ranks while maintaining high standards for national security.

“The answer is to make sure that as we’re going through our promotion processes, and that as we’re going through our assignment processes, that we’re giving the best person for the job the opportunity,” she said. “Without the right kinds of assignments and experiences, I really don’t think you’re equipped to lead our great Navy.”

Hamby also shared some of the many changes she’s seen in the Navy over the past 35 years.

“The biggest change that I have seen is one in attitude,” Hamby said. “When I was first commissioned, when a woman showed up at a command, the command’s assumption was they would have to ‘wait and see’ if this one was going to be a good one, if they were going to be a good performer. … When a man would show up at a command the assumption was, he’s going to be great.”

She added, “What I see today is that women show up to commands, and the assumption is that they’re going to be superstars. So a major attitudinal change has taken place.”