Macho culture keeps women at arms length

Attempts to recruit women into the Army are being undermined by a
‘historically masculine’ culture, a new study claims.

The research, part-funded by the Ministry of Defence, reveals that while the
Army has made good progress in its equal opportunities policy, many male
soldiers and officers find it hard to adjust to the presence of women, and
believe they have a disruptive influence.

Currently, around 8 per cent of the British Army is female – a proportion
that has grown since the roles available to them expanded in 1998. Women
represent 9.5 per cent of officers, and 6.8 per cent of other ranks.

The report’s co-author, Dr Rachel Woodward of Newcastle University, told
Personnel Today that Army policy has embraced the idea of diversity, but is
dealing with a "conservative, macho culture".

"We found that the Army is still a traditionally masculine
organisation, which is only adapting gradually to the inclusion of women – and
this adaptation process is uneven through the ranks," she said.

"Influencing cultural change is a very difficult thing to do. People
within the Army said to me that it’s like turning a supertanker," she added.

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