The Pentagon’s advisory committee on women in uniform says the military could recruit and retain more women if leaders put an end to sexual harassment and paid more attention to families.
The report issued last week by the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service says the Pentagon also needs better outreach efforts to show women a realistic picture of life in the military.
Despite some evidence of recent progress, research conducted by the committee continues to highlight specific challenges the services’ marketing efforts face in inspiring young women to serve, the report found.
The advisory committee is one of the military’s oldest, with roots going back to the Korean War. It issues a yearly report intended on giving the brass a better view of women’s issues. The committee says its “recommendations have been very instrumental in effecting changes to laws and policies pertaining to military women.”
A consistent theme in those recommendations has been stamping out sexual harassment and assault in the ranks. “The presence of sexual harassment and gender discrimination degrades healthy unit climates for all service members, in turn negatively affecting military readiness,” the committee said in its latest report.
The committee called on the Pentagon to do a full review of its policies on sexual harassment and assault to get a handle on the situation.
“The committee’s research revealed that gender discrimination and sexual harassment — malignant behaviors that corrode healthy unit climates and undermine readiness — have continued to persist in the ranks,” the report says.
The committee also wants the brass to do a better job of supporting military mothers, calling for flexible leave to handle family issues.
“Affording service members the option to accommodate medical appointments or child care needs via flexible leave would allow the individual to balance both roles,” the report found.
The committee also pushed to give military fathers more time at home with new babies, calling for 21 days off to help with their newborn.
The committee also found that if leaders want women to be more comfortable in military roles, there’s no better solution than recruiting more women.
“When compared with the population of women who are eligible to serve, female service members are underrepresented across all the military services,” the report found.
But getting more female recruits means tailoring military marketing efforts toward women, the report found. And that marketing better give a clear picture of a woman’s life in the service.
“Research indicates junior service members do not feel current advertising efforts realistically depict servicewomen’s lives and see this disconnect as counterproductive,” the report said.
The study has been handed to the Pentagon’s leaders, but no immediate efforts to address its findings have been announced.
Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240 Twitter: @xroederx