Although Sgt. Woolridge has always enjoyed physical activity, she hadn’t always wanted to be a soldier and before 2011 had never considered joining the Royal Bermuda Regiment.
Sergeant Patricia ‘Jenny’ Woolridge, 31, Female Soldier in the Royal Bermuda Regiment
Although Sgt. Woolridge has always enjoyed physical activity, she hadn’t always wanted to be a soldier and before 2011 had never considered joining the Royal Bermuda Regiment. It wasn’t until she was back on the Island looking for a job that her sister forwarded her an email advertising the Regiment’s Recruit Camp, which paid $2,000 for the two weeks, that she found her calling.
“I was always someone who was into sports and physical activities,” she says. “I figured it’s a challenge but I can get paid to do it, so why not. After my recruit camp, I fell in love. The money didn’t matter.
“The environment makes you push yourself. The things you thought you couldn’t do, you can because you’ve worked so hard. You’ve practised; you’ve trained. Sometimes I think I have to work twice as hard because I’m a female, but all those things make me a better person.
“Being a woman in a man’s world is always a challenge. Sometimes physical, sometimes mental. I like to have my hair out and my nails done, but at camp you can’t have your hair out, but this is a commitment. I chose to do it. I pull my hair back and get back in.
“When you know, as a female, you can accomplish what I’ve accomplished in a man’s world, it is awesome. Being able to prove people wrong by doing what you enjoy is an amazing feeling.”
Woolridge explained that in spite of enjoying what she does, she has, at times, found it tough, but that this experience not only makes her better at her job, but also puts her in a stronger position to help others.
“In my first year I quit on one of our route marches, and to this day I will never quit again. The feeling of quitting was just the worst in the world. That was an experience and challenge that I had to overcome. I tell people I quit once and tell them they will hate themselves if they do it.
“I speak from experience when I speak to my troops.”
I don’t feel it’s a man’s world all the time because I’m doing what the men are doing. I work as hard as anyone else. I don’t expect my troops to do anything I can’t do.
“When you have new people, who aren’t used to having females telling them what to do, there’s always a bit of push back, but in time everyone learns that Sgt. Woolridge has nothing negative to say. Everything I’m asking them to do, they need to do. People realise you are actually helping them.
Woolridge said that one of the most rewarding aspects of her job is watching how people grow and develop and the fact the Regiment places emphasis on mentoring: “I still have mentors, and I mentor others,” she says. She also explains that during Recruit Camp there’s nearly always one female on staff, so women have support readily available.
For any women considering the Regiment, Woodridge says, “It’s a big challenge but push yourself, and when you get to where you want to be, it’s so rewarding. Don’t fall for the typical stereotype that because this is a man’s world, you can’t do it. Always try to prove someone wrong and change that stereotype.”
Currently around 18-20 per cent of the Regiment is female.
Sgt. Woolridge is also a Business Analyst in the Project Management Office of the Bermuda Monetary Authority.