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www.defence.gov.au/news/NAVYNEWS October 10, 2013
AS ONE of only two women to
complete 40 years as a per-
manent member of the Navy,
CMDR Glenda Shaw has seen
many changes including witnessing the
first women go to sea.
Before leaving Jannali Girls High
School in Sutherland, NSW, in 1972,
CMDR Shaw selected the WRANS as
her first career choice.
"At the time I joined, I thought
'where am I going to get a good mix of
training, job opportunity, adventure and
travel?'," she said.
"Navy was one of the few organisa-
tions that could meet this desire."
She will retire in December after 41
years of service -- an impressive feat
given she signed up as a communicator
with the intention of completing only
"I thought I would get a qualification
or skill, get out and then maybe do a
degree after that," she said.
"I enjoyed it from the very first day,
so much so that I changed my immedi-
ate plan and decided to see what Navy
could offer me.
"I liked the people and the organisa-
tion. I liked the fact that even though it
was strict from a disciplinary point of
view, it was obvious that the organisa-
tion cared about its people."
One aspect CMDR Shaw didn't
really like was mess life as a sailor, so
as well as seeking promotion to gain a
greater challenge, she also worked to get
promoted to move to a quieter mess.
She said most WRANS only com-
pleted two years before leaving to
marry, so if you worked hard and knew
your job, promotion came around quite
The WRANS disbanded in the mid-
80s and members transferred to the
By 1988, CMDR Shaw was a warrant
officer radio supervisor-teletype.
After many years as a warrant
officer, she transferred to commissioned
rank. She was one of the first women to
be selected to change over.
During her career CMDR Shaw has
seen women gain more and more equal-
ity in the Navy including female officers
receiving training at sea in 1978, equal
pay in 1979 and eventually serving in
billets at sea.
"By the time approval was given for
women to go to sea, I was a warrant
officer," she said.
"The decision was made not to send
communications senior ranks to sea as
the cost of retraining was too high and
no amount of training could provide
us with the 20 years of sea experience
needed to do the job.
"The practicality of it was that I
couldn't do the chief's role at sea and
certainly not the warrant officer's.
"When I became an officer I signed
offered me a role that I could do without
needing many years of training, and by
then I had a family."
CMDR Shaw said she often regret-
ted not having gained sea experience,
although in recent years this had
Communications has evolved and she
is not dependent on sea experience to
understand how communications and net-
work systems deliver information at sea as
it uses basically the same architecture and
processes as the strategic environment.
"I understand how the networks at sea
work, the data flows and its uses, so I can
apply my knowledge and it's not hard for
me now to make that leap," she said.
"Every now and again I will experi-
ence something that I don't know a lot
about, but I just ask the experts, who have
always been willing to fill in the gaps."
CMDR Shaw has spent the past
three years as the Deputy Director of
Maritime Military Engagement with
Chief Information Officer Group
(CIOG) in Canberra. In this position she
is the liaison between CIOG and Navy.
Her service was recognised with an
afternoon tea at the Hyatt in Canberra
on September 20 where Chief of
Capability Development Group VADM
Peter Jones presented her with an hon-
our board showing her class photo,
ranks and postings.
She plans to move to warmer climes on
the Sunshine Coast but won't be cutting
ties with Navy completely as she plans to
do some reserve time when she can.
After 41 years of continuous service, CMDR Glenda Shaw is ready for a
new challenge, LSIS Helen Frank reports.
Shaw ships out
ALL SET: CMDR Glenda Shaw is only the second woman to complete
40 years of permanent Naval service.
Photo: LSIS Helen Frank
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