The Debrief Podcast: Women's Initiative Team

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Janiqua Robinson and Staff Sgt. Sara Voigt
  • Airman Magazine

In this inaugural episode of Airman magazine's newest podcast, The Debrief, Staff Sgt. Janiqua Robinson and Staff Sgt. Sara Voigt speak with the leaders of the Women's Initiative Team which seeks to improve the attraction and retention of Airmen by collecting data from thousands of women across the force and presenting it to 101st Air Force Uniform Board. Their report played a pivotal role in the first women’s hair policy change in 70 years.

Listen to The Debrief HERE

On February 19, 2021, U.S. Air Force senior leaders directed a second racial, gender and ethnic disparity review of racial, gender and ethnic disparity in the Department of the Air Force.

Maj. Alea Nadeem, a Reserve Airman who serves as the leader of the Air Force Women’s Initiative Team, has played a key role in bringing about positive changes for women across the Air Force. Major Nadeem teamed up with Master Sgt. Jonathon Lind, a fellow leader who was made aware of the issues with the female hair policy when one of his young Airmen experienced complications first-hand. Master Sgt. Lind’s wife, a fellow Airman, also remarked that she was considering leaving the Air Force due to the same issues.

The report submitted by these Airmen stated that constraints to hair grooming standards resulted in damage to hair, migraines and in some cases, hair loss. Additionally, the feedback revealed that the existing hair policy had failed to support a culture of inclusion for almost a quarter of Total Force Airmen. As a result, AFI 36-2903, the Air Force's dress and appearance regulation, was updated to relax the hair policies for women.

The WIT was created in 2008 as a response to the Air Force’s directive to look at and remove barriers for minority groups within the Air Force. Since it’s creation, the volunteer group has been able to change major Air Force policies in addition to hair policies, such as, change in waivers for height requirements for pilots, body armor that is geared toward the female anatomy, and mandatory locked lactation rooms. To find more information about the WIT, check our their page within the Air Force portal or access the Women's Initiative Team Facebook page.

Click the photo to watch the WIT podcast