It’s all in the family for this mother-daughter duo

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Colonel Audrey Shortridge and Lieutenant (Navy) Victoria Shortridge are no strangers to breaking the proverbial glass ceiling. Mother and daughter have forged military careers in settings where they were often the only women in the room.

With 32 years of service, Col Shortridge is now the Chief of Staff at ADM (Policy). Her daughter, Lt(N) Shortridge recently graduated from the Royal Military College of Canada (RMCC), the only woman in her mechanical engineering class.

“I grew up with my mentor, in a sense,” Lt(N) Shortridge said of her relationship with her mom. “I’ve always had a very positive role model in my life, because she always supported the women around her, and she taught me to do the same.”

When she decided to attend RMCC, Lt(N) Shortridge was struck by the comradery and sense of community she found at the college – an environment that mirrored the formal and informal support systems her parents relied on during deployments and domestic operations when she was growing up. Her parents’ careers gave her a clear idea of the challenges and unique opportunities of military service, as well as the responsibilities entrusted to CAF personnel.

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“Joining the military is a great way to get your foot in the door and gain the required experience in my field,” said Lt(N) Shortridge, who is now a Naval Combat Systems Engineer. “I really am happy with my choice.”

When Col Shortridge joined the military in 1987, female personnel were just beginning to take on combat roles. Family support programs, such as the Military Family Resource Centres (MFRC), were getting off the ground. For a dual service couple, navigating the demands of deployments, training exercises, and family life while maintaining fulfilling careers was quite the balancing act.

Today, she is encouraged by the women coming up through the ranks in diverse roles, and the wide-ranging support available to families. A highlight of her career to date was serving as the Senior Administration Officer at Canadian Forces Support Unit (Ottawa), and seeing the impact of the services and programs firsthand on military members and their families.

“It was a great opportunity to lead an incredible team to deliver services across Ottawa – whether it was administrative, Personnel Support Programs, support to military families through the MFRC, or initiating Family Days for the National Capital Region.”

While mother and daughter may have broken ground in traditionally male-dominated roles, both feel fulfilled by serving their country and making a contribution, at home and abroad. Still at the outset of her military career, Lt(N) Shortridge put it best: “You feel like a better contributor to society because of your military experience. You learn so much about yourself. You become a better Canadian.”

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