850: Boldly Take On The World With Joanne Whitlock

Joanne Whitlock is a Logistics Readiness Officer of the United States Air Force.  She was born in the Philippines.  Joanne 850: Boldly Take On The World With Joanne Whitlock spent early childhood in the Philippines and later moved to Florida. She received her Bachelors in Biological Anthropology and her Masters in Forensic Science.  Joanne was a forensic investigator for a few years in the Washington DC/northern Virginia area after college.  She comes from a family of military members (her Dad is a retired Vietnam War veteran) and eventually she joined the Air Force.  Joanne has been an Air Force Officer for about 10 years now where her primary career field is in Logistics.  She has been deployed to Africa and the Middle East and has been stationed at various locations across the country. Joanne is happiest when she is traveling and exploring the world and cities. Outside of her career, Joanne is a big adventurer and travel junkie.

Joanne shares how the racism, sexism and microaggressions that she has faced throughout her life and career, especially in male dominated industries.  She shares how all these experiences became an evolution to speak her voice, and stand up for herself to boldly take on the world and become the leader that she is today.  


Joanne Whitlock is a Logistics Readiness Officer of the United States Air Force. 

Cultural Background

Joanne is of Filipino descent.

Favorite Self Confidence Quote

Always be yourself and have faith in yourself. Don’t go out and look for a successful personality and try to duplicate it.

Always be yourself and have faith in yourself. Don’t go out and look for a successful personality and try to duplicate it.

Definition of Self Confidence

Self confidence is being secure in who you are physically, mentally and emotionally.  It’s not that you necessarily are a perfect specimen in any of the three but that you own where you are in your journey with no apologies. And with that, also not feeling the need to compare yourself to others or not needing to seek constant validation. Validation is always a great boost to have
but allowing that to be what only or mostly defines your self worth is a different story.

Her Life Before the Discovery of Self Confidence

Joanne was more passive in her younger years. She tended to go along with the gender, racial jokes and microaggressions because it was the easy thing to do, and she didn’t want to ruffle the feathers. As a 5’2” Asian female, she was not physically imposing and her voice was s not loud. It was easy to be overlooked or disregarded. When she was in a room and she looked around, one of these things is not like the other.  She just allowed herself to kind of blend in. Looking back, she thinks this mindset may have caused her to experience imposter syndrome during certain parts of her life because she has always been a go getter and overachiever growing up. Joanne grew up in a diverse environment which went away as she got into her career choices, and the feelings of being dismissed slowly crept up. It could also be the microaggressions has always been there, and she just became more aware of her surroundings as she got older.

The “AHA” Moment

Joanne doesn’t exactly recall any one major moment that she would say was her AHA moment. It’s been a culmination of various experiences throughout her adult life and career. From male detectives telling her in her early 20s as an investigator, “you’re too pretty for this line of work” then transitioning to another profession that’s also extremely male dominated, and white male dominated at that. Having lunch with her male coworker while they were both in uniform, someone comes up and thanks her coworker for his service and doesn’t acknowledge Joanne at all. She goes to the DMV or another agency to apply for military or veteran status and get told, “Sorry the military member must be present.” Or she is moving to another military assignment, and she has a moving company at her house packing up her belongings and the movers ask how long her husband has been in the military.

Being called mean when a male counterpart is assertive. It’s just perpetual moments like that. Constant exposure to these kind of preconceptions and being disregarded just wore her down. It’s like, is it so hard to believe that a female can be in the military? And then she experienced clear prejudice from certain leaders in the military. And with each instance or predetermined assumption, it was this evolution within her of just finding her voice more and more.  Joanne was tired of being discounted. And not to mention, Asian females in senior leadership positions is a rare thing to see.

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Her Life After the Discovery of Self Confidence

Joanne no longer doubts whether she belongs or whether her skills are enough. She doesn’t shy away from speaking up in meetings. Now, she sticks out in the room instead of trying to blend in and be quiet.  The fact that she sticks out is a positive thing and eagerly provides her insight and different perspective. Joanne considers herself now as a strong advocate for DEI and empowering minorities and women within the military and beyond. The passion has led her to get involved with a barrier analysis working group In the Air Force that studies the barriers in recruiting and promotion of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.  Joanne became a Big Brother Big Sister mentor to high school minority youths.  She sits on a board for a non profit organization focused on supporting and empowering AAPI community through media arts and entertainment. She knows that she follows behind some incredible trailblazers and that she can influence those who come after her, so she will continue down this journey. Joanne is also now part of the Women Who Boss Up project, and she will be involved in a new book coming out soon.

The One Self Confidence Tip For the Listener

Force the world to tell you no and then keep going anyway. Admittedly, Joanne still battles with this sometimes, getting in her own head and wanting to give up or thinking she doesn’t have what it takes when certain opportunities arise. But at the end of the day, she believes in the sheer power of believing in yourself. Don’t let yourself be your own worst enemy and be the hinderance to progress and success. Boldly take on the world and force the world to tell you no.  Then make it your goal to prove them wrong.

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