As part of ADM’s mission to be the communication bridge between Defence and Defence Industry, I launched the inaugural Women in Defence Awards last week at the 15th annual ADM Congress in Canberra.
“Recognition of the people in our defence community, both in uniform and in the industry that supports the ADF, is important,” I said to the 600 strong audience. “All too often we hear about the problems and not enough about what is going well, about what is working. We’re looking to highlight the successes of this community both through the established Essington Lewis awards program and now through Women in Defence Awards.”
Defence has been tracking the participation of females in their workplace since 2012 via the annual Women in the ADFReport which tracks a number of metrics through the uniformed ADF.
“Each of the three Services has set female participation targets to be achieved by the year 2023,” according to the latest Report for 2015-2016. “Central to achieving these targets are ongoing improvements in the successful attraction and recruitment of women, including the retention of women in the recruitment pathways at rates comparable to that of men. In support of efforts to increase the representation of women within the ADF, the Services set female recruiting targets on an annual basis.”
According to the numbers, Navy has (at 30 June 2016) 19.1 per cent female participation, an increase from 18.5 per cent as at 30 June 2012. Female representation in Army has increased from 10.1 per cent as at 30 June 2012 to 12.1 per cent as at 30 June 2016. Female representation in Air Force has increased from 16.9 per cent as at 30 June 2012 to 19.2 per cent over that period.
Defence APS also have programs in place to address diversity including female participation rates. But according to the latest Pathways to Change report, there is still much work to be done (the most recent publicly available report is from 2011).
“Defence has fewer women than the APS average, both overall and in leadership roles,” the report notes. “There is a progressive drop in the proportion of women from APS5 with a particular shortage at the EL2 level.”
The report notes that females make up roughly 40 per cent of the Defence APS workforce, below the APS average of 57 per cent.
As to women in defence industry, figures are hard to come by. If board membership of major defence companies is any indication, much more needs to be done in this space. Only one of the Top 10 Defence companies in Australia (ASC, which has directors appointed by Government) has at the minimum 30 per cent female representation.