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USACE’s only female command duo talks Women’s History

Published March 29, 2019

Women’s History Month is celebrated every March. During the month we celebrate and discuss all the great women throughout history who have paved the road for future generations. Not only do we celebrate those before us, but we also celebrate the women of today.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the top employer of women in STEM career fields in the federal government with over 3,200 professionals and the Louisville District is no different with females serving in all career fields and several senior leadership roles. The Louisville District is the only district in USACE with a female commander and female deputy district engineer.

Louisville District Commander Col. Antoinette Gant and Deputy District Engineer Linda Murphy discuss what Women’s History Month means to them.

“For so long women were in support roles and because of the identification, that through commitment and hard work and the fact that women possess leadership skills as well, we’re now able to have opportunities such as these and to be in these types of roles,” said Gant.

Murphy echoed the sentiment.

“It’s really a celebration of those women that have come before and paved the way in order for women, like us, to be able to get into leadership positions throughout the U.S. government and the Corps of Engineers,” said Murphy.

When asked who their role model was, Gant said undoubtedly her mother, who had a science degree and was a biology teacher, then a physics teacher and chemistry teacher. Her mother then decided to step out of her comfort zone and learn design drawing which led to her mother receiving a doctorate.

“What I have seen by watching her is there are no limits to what we are capable of doing, as women,” said Gant. “And to go for the dreams of which you desire.”

Murphy said her father was her biggest role model.

“I know we are taking about Women’s History Month but my dad instilled in me about the hard work and dedication and strong commitment to living up and working as hard as you can,” said Murphy. “I think that goes beyond just a gender, it applies to all of us in all of our positions.”

Both women feel honored to be females in their respective leadership positions and agreed that taking opportunities is crucial in progressing in your career.

“Take every opportunity you can to do something beyond your comfort zone,” said Murphy. “I was able to move throughout the organization and sometimes it was scary to go into positions that you weren’t really familiar with, but it provided an opportunity to just learn and grow for myself.”

Gant agreed and added that women have a nurturing side which is unique and therefore can bring other things or ideas to the table. She also talked about the many times you may think ‘it’s not the right time’ and reiterated that it may never be the right time but if the opportunity is available, you have to take advantage of it.

“Don’t sell yourself short if ever you have an opportunity to be considered for a position and don’t wait for someone to tell you that you should consider those positions – seek it out yourself,” said Gant.

“Do not forget, whatever you do or whatever your dream is, don’t let anyone limit you in saying that it cannot be done,” said Gant. “Because if you have the intestinal fortitude and you work hard in being able to reach that – it is possible.”