CAF Firsts: First woman to serve as Deputy Commander, 2 Cdn Div / JTF (E)

Brigadier-General Robidoux
Brigadier-General Robidoux is proud to see that in 2018, more and more women are deciding to enlist, saying, "Everyone has a contribution to make." She is aware, however, that a lot remains to be done to change attitudes. Photo: DND/CAF

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Brigadier-General Josée Robidoux is the first woman to serve as Deputy Commander of 2nd Canadian Division and Joint Task Force East.

She was named one of the hundred most influential women of 2017 by the Women’s Executive Network. In 1985, the year she joined the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), little did she know that she would hold such a position today and be one of the pioneers in her field.

Once her training was over, she wanted to join an infantry regiment but had to reshape her plans. “At that time, combat arms were not yet open to women,” she explains. Women have only been allowed to serve in all military occupations and perform in all roles within the CAF for just over 20 years.

She decided to join the 714 Communication Squadron in Sherbrooke, where women were accepted.

She never regretted her choice. In June 2015, she was appointed Commander of 35 Canadian Brigade Group, and became the first woman to command a brigade group in Quebec. In 2011-2012, she participated in a mission to Afghanistan as Senior Advisor to the Afghan National Army.

BGen Robidoux is proud to see that in 2018, more and more women are deciding to enlist, saying, “Everyone has a contribution to make.” She is aware, however, that a lot remains to be done to change attitudes.

She explains that she feels much more under scrutiny than a man would carrying out the same duties: “Sometimes I still feel like I have to show that I’m in this position because I deserve it. Some think that I was appointed only because I am a woman and it is currently appropriate to appoint women to senior positions.”

She maintains that regardless of gender, a member can hope to achieve increasingly important duties by developing three important qualities: determination, perseverance, and self-confidence: “These are the top three reasons that I’ve arrived where I am. When I joined the CAF, it was not always easy for women to demonstrate these qualities, but fortunately, times have changed.”

She concludes by saying that she is confident things will continue to evolve in a positive way: “It’s important that women also aspire to move up the chain of command. It is also vital for men to realize that the women by their side are just as fit as they are for such work.”

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