Australia to increase female soldier quota

Australia to increase female soldier quota

SYDNEY - Agence France-Presse
Australia to increase female soldier quota

Female members of the Australian military talk to a couple of women interested in joining the military in this photo taken from the Australian Defense Forces’ website.

A damning inquiry into the treatment of women in Australia’s military yesterday recommended quotas to increase female representation and the establishment of a unit to probe sexual misconduct.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said her year-long review of the Australian Defense Force (ADF) uncovered “systemic, cultural and practical impediments to cultural change” regarding the status of women.

The inquiry was set up following a series of sex scandals within the military, including an incident in which a male cadet having sex with a female colleague was broadcast via Skype to his classmates.

Broderick said the inquiry heard “deeply distressing” testimony from women who had experienced sexual harassment, discrimination and abuse, with “highly sexualized” behavior normalized in some workplaces.

Broderick found that 25.9 percent of women and 10.5 percent of men had been sexually harassed within the military, broadly in line with the civilian population.But a further 20.3 percent of women and 10.2 percent of men who denied being harassed went on to describe behavior that met the legal definition, she said, suggesting a “lack of awareness” about appropriate conduct.

Confidential reporting
She called for a dedicated sexual misconduct prevention and response unit to be set up “as a priority” to speed up response, provide victim support, education and oversee confidential reporting of incidents. Increasing the “critical mass” of women and their prospects for promotion was also key, Broderick said, recommending any workplace of 10 or fewer members have at least two females.

She also called for capable women to be targeted for promotion into senior ranks, with just one top-ranked female in each of the navy and air force. Women represented 13.8 percent of the defense force, which had only managed a one percent increase in female recruitment in the past 10 years.