Meet NZ Navy’s four women heroes

There are more women in the Navy than ever (27.3%), but there are also more women in charge of Navy ships and shore units, with four women in order of boats and three in the direction of shore units.

All of these figures represent essential anniversaries for the Chief of the Navy, Rear Admiral David Proctor.

In his words, “International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate the diversity of our workforce and acknowledge the value women bring to our organization.

“However, we also need to walk the talk and show that women have equal opportunities for success to men. Achieving that goal is made possible by the fact that women are in charge of more than 60% of our ships, critical shore units, and other positions.

This is a significant shift compared to the early years of Navy history.

Despite the War Cabinet’s initial approval of women joining the Navy in 1942, it took 44 years for a pilot program to permit women to sail in non-combatant ships. Because of the success of this program, all women joining NZ Navy were required to serve first at sea beginning in 1989. Starting in 1993, they were allowed to do on frigates.

Since that time, more women have joined the Navy consistently. They do it for the same reasons as their male Navy counterparts: to first learn a trade, to change the world, to travel, to experience things that others will never have, and to make lifelong friends.

Maxine Lawes, a captain who joined the Navy in 1985, observes that the culture of the Navy has changed over time, particularly with the emphasis on diversity, equity, and respect for personnel.

She said, “As the world changed, so did our Navy. “Initially, it wasn’t simple, but nothing worthwhile is,”

“I feel enormous pride that they not only serve in the Navy, but that they thrive in it and are in command of it,” says the confident, supported, motivated, and highly trained women in our Navy.


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