“Ladies and….”July 24, 2018 | :
by 1st Lt. Virginia Brodie, USMC
Two short words can change the Marine Corps: “Ladies and . . . .”
As a brand new lieutenant to the fleet, I was shocked standing in formation when my commanding officer began by addressing the unit as “gentlemen.” I was not the only woman in my unit and there have been women serving in my unit for years. He knew I was there, but it seemed as if my presence was being disregarded. A commanding officer is responsible for setting the tone of the entire unit and, without words, he made women feel unwelcome.
Leaving out “ladies and” is so subtle that it is often overlooked. Language is one of a commander’s many powerful tools to influence change and reach every member of the unit. The words and opinions leaders choose to communicate are reflected in the Marines under his or her charge. Marines will take on the persona of their leadership and they will hear what is said and what is implied by what is not said. Each rank and level of leadership has their own sphere of influence beginning with a Private First Class utilizing the proper greeting of the day all the way up the chain of command to a Sergeant Major and a Lieutenant Colonel addressing a battalion.