QUESTION NO: 132
* To ask the Minister for Defence the number of women currently serving in the Air Corps; the extent to which the numbers might be set to increase; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– DEPUTY BERNARD J. DURKAN.
FOR WRITTEN ANSWER ON THURSDAY, 25TH JUNE, 2015.
Ref No: 25606/15 Proof: 145
Minister for Defence (Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D.):
As of 31 st May, 2015, there are 32 whole time equivalent posts filled by women serving in the Air Corps. The Government is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for men and women throughout the Defence Forces and to the full participation by women in all aspects of Defence Forces activities.
A number of specific initiatives have been implemented to increase female participation in the Defence Forces including:
· The introduction of best practices in recruitment, such as the adjustment of physical standards for female applicants;
· Special consideration is paid to women as a target group for recruitment;
· A balanced composition between men and women on recruitment and selection boards;
· All promotions and career courses are open to both sexes on merit and;
· A Gender Advisor has been appointed to promote gender equality policies and training within the Defence Forces.
I believe that a key issue in recruiting and retaining female personnel going forward lies in societal perception and attitudes to female soldiers and officers. I am hopeful that through continued engagement and communication, this perception will change over time.