When it comes to gender politics, the Australian Defence Force has had something of a chequered history. Perennial scandals of sexism and misogyny have frequently plagued the public image of our army, navy and air force.
But it’s 2017 now, and high time that playing field is levelled, once and for all.
That was presumably the not-so-twisted thinking behind the ADF’s recent push back against their own gender imbalance problem. ADF staff have allegedly been instructed to only employ women for a range of roles, denying employment opportunities to male recruits in order to boost the amount of females enlisted.
This signals a bold step toward the Defence Force’s self-imposed quota of female employment, with the Australian Army having announced a goal target of 25 percent female staff by 2025. On a larger scale, it is part of an admirable mission to balance the scales of gender inequality within the ADF.
So credit where credit’s due.
But this hardline, ‘man ban’ approach has come off as a little heavy-handed. Former Army officer and Australian Conservatives party member Bernie Gaynor, for one, reckons the ADF’s “politically correct policies have gone beyond bonkers… It is now openly discriminating against males for its combat roles in the Army.”
And while conventional wisdom tells us to treat anyone waving the ‘PC gone mad’ card with salt and scrutiny, old Bernie’s not entirely wrong.
Whilst aiming for gender equality is undoubtedly a worthwhile pursuit, the ADF’s stiff treatment of the issue feels like an over-correction. The low-hanging argument that Bernie’s reached for is that by categorically denying men these employment opportunities, the ADF has simply reversed the discrimination.
One Daily Telegraph commentator points out that these kind of box-ticking parameters limit our potential to have the finest and fittest, the “best and brightest” soldiers out there on the front line (flavoured with a slightly disturbing lack of confidence that these people might be women, albeit).
Moreover, though, this tactic of shunning male applicants in order to boost female employment numbers prioritises equality of outcome over equality of opportunity. The former chases a quota, sternly and blindly, in an attempt to balance the scales by balancing out the numbers. But the deeper issue with gender inequality in the workplace – and one that the ADF has failed to fix, even here – is that men and women do not receive equal opportunity for employment.
That is to say that the same doors aren’t always open for both, regardless of gender. Anyone aspiring toward equality of opportunity wants to open all of these doors. The ADF has simply flipped the gender card above theirs.
Source: Nine News/Daily Telegraph
Feature image: GirlTalkHQ