Airman First Class Seara Dunning, Colonel DeAnna Franks, and Airman First Class Jamie Brookshier work at the 139th Airlift Wing stationed at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base in St. Joseph, Missouri.

In the 1990s, the average number of women in the United States Air Force Academy sat around 18 percent. Today, that number has grown to almost 24 percent.

"There are more women that are coming into the military, into the Air Force Academy and then into other careers," says Col. DeAnna Franks, vice commandant of the Advanced Airlift Tactics Training Center at the 139th Airlift Wing.

Franks says the number of women drops to about 10 percent when transitioning from the academy to pilot training. She remembers being one of two females in her class.

Having a career that is dominated by men can be intimidating. However, women throughout the years have overcome that pressure.

"You just have to step up to that challenge and just do your best as (the men) do," Franks says.

Airman First Class Seara Dunning says there were fewer women in the academy, which meant fewer classmates to relate to. However, she didn't let that get in the way of her calling.

"Our mission is to make sure the planes fly and it doesn't matter who's next to you, we just want to get that accomplished," says Dunning, who now works at the 139th Airlift Wing as an aircraft maintainer.

Men and women receive equal pay in the military. How much one makes depends on the rank accomplished and the time served.

Women at the 139th Wing say they feel equally treated as their male coworkers. The ladies agree there are no advantages or disadvantages in being female in the Air Force.

"I've always felt throughout my career that the men a part of my crew have been incredibly supportive," Franks says.

Just like men, women in the Air Force have requirements when it comes to styling their hair, although requirements were relaxed in 2014. Women must keep their hair neat, pulled back and it cannot extend past the shirt collar when put up. Women must keep their hair less than 3 inches in bulk in order to allow for proper wear of headgear.

In basic training, women were not allowed to wear makeup. Once out of training, makeup has to be natural looking. Limited jewelry is allowed. 

"As soon as we all got out of basics, we buy makeup and jewelry," Dunning laughs.

Franks believes these requirements allow her to perform her duties better.


Col. DeAnna Franks is Commandant of the Advanced Airlift Tactics Training Center.

"The professional outlook makes the job easier, but it's also a safety factor," Franks said.

Over the last 10 to 20 years, women have joined areas in the military that were once off limits. Females are now seen working with the special operations forces as well as flying in combat.

Airman First Class Jamie Brookshier encourages females to look at all the different career opportunities within the Air Force like she did.

"There's plenty of women who have done it before you and plenty of women who will do it after you," Brookshier says. "There’s women all over this base in all different places, so don't be afraid to do it."

Jenn Hall can be reached at jenn.hall@newspressnow.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SJNPHall.