She is making her voice heard in the military and elsewhere, paving the path of representation and success for those who will follow.

At the end of the day, I believe in the sheer power of believing in yourself. Don’t let yourself be your own worst enemy.

— Joanne Whitlock

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, USA, December 14, 2022 / — Capt Joanne Whitlock has spent her career in male-dominated fields, starting as a forensic investigator in the Washington, D.C. area, and now as an active duty officer in the U.S. Air Force who has been deployed to Africa and the Middle East, among other postings. Her dad flew C-130s for the Air Force during Vietnam and her brother and sister also enlisted. “There was a lot of family influence along with really wanting to give back to a country that’s done so much for me and my family,” she explains, “especially from our very humble beginnings in the Philippines.”

Being in the military has allowed her to travel and to work with people from all walks of life, something that she loves to do. “Everybody has a different story about how they got to where they are, and that’s incredible,” she says. Having spent her formative career years in the military, she also learned a lot about leadership. “I definitely have experienced leaders whose footsteps I would never follow in and I have experienced leaders that I would love to emulate. So the military helped my ability to create my own style of leadership.”

She’s also had a lot of experience being the only woman in the room, the only Asian woman in the room—and a physically small one at that. “It’s easy for me to be overlooked or disregarded. Those feelings of being dismissed along with micro-aggressions and racial jokes—I kind of went along with it because it was the easy thing to do, but even 10 years later, it’s tough sometimes.” She’s been at agencies applying for military status and has been told, “Oh, sorry, ma’am, the military member is the one that needs to be present to get this benefit.” Or she’ll have a moving company at her house and a mover will ask, “How long has your husband been in the military? Where is he getting stationed now?” And she has to explain, “It’s me. I am in the military.”

So Capt Whitlock is becoming part of the solution. She is a member of a Barrier Analysis Working Group within the Air Force that is focused on analyzing the barriers to promotion and recruitment of Asian Americans in the military. “I get motivated by the pioneers in the Asian American Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian communities who came before me and I know that things I do right now are going to influence those that are going to come after me,” she says. “I stand on the shoulders of those before me. Knowing that I can pave the path for those who are coming after me is a huge motivation. And I refuse to let that next generation down.”

That’s why she is especially excited about her newest assignment as an Assistant Professor of Aerospace Studies and Operations Officer for Cal State University in San Bernardino. She’ll be working with the Air Force ROTC program there, directly influencing the next generation of officers, leading and guiding them into their commissioning into the military. She also has begun to eagerly use her voice to provide insight and different perspectives. “I consider myself a strong advocate for DEI, empowering minorities and women within the military and outside. This past May, I led Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month for the entire Air Force. We did a lot of great interviews and efforts with that. It was a fantastic month.”
Connect with Capt Joanne Whitlock on LinkedIn or email her at “I’m very happy to connect, network, discuss future efforts and events with people,” she says. Much more of her story and advice appears in the new book Inspiring Women Who Boss Up, a collection of interviews with female entrepreneurs that is packed with compelling stories, practical advice, and role models for any woman looking to boss up in her career or life.

About the Women Who Boss Up Book Series

Whether you’ve been bossing up for a while or you’re looking for support on your boss-up journey, the Women Who Boss Up book series is your chance to take inspiration and advice from women just like you. These women come from all backgrounds, all walks of life, and all disciplines—STEM, healthcare, finance, coaching, nonprofits, and much more. You’ll read about women who left Corporate America to pursue their dreams of business ownership, women who faced seemingly insurmountable challenges but learned how to move forward, women who followed their intuition to create lives of fulfillment and financial success, and much more. Learn more at

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Joanne Whitlock