Leadership: January 2, 2003

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The percentage of women in the Royal Navy has gone from 5.6 percent in 1990 to nearly eight percent today. At first, many officers and senior NCOs saw women on board as an additional headache they didn't need. In 1993, 47 percent of the officers and NCOs preferred shipping out with an all male crew. Now this is down to 13 percent. Lower ranking sailors saw a similar drop in preference, from 70 percent to 37 percent. But half the lower ranking sailors still see women on board as problem because the women, not having any macho hang-ups, are less reluctant to kiss up to officers and Chief Petty Officers to get out of unpleasant assignments. This is a problem throughout the armed forces where men and women work outside of an office setting (and even in an office, women will tend to call on guys to deal with broken copiers or other equipment.) The officers and chiefs have learned to live with this, but the sailors are still ticked off. There is also the problem of sex and emotional relationships. Women are in an ideal dating situation, although that sort of thing is discouraged, or forbidden, on ship, depending on the captains policy. Higher ranking sailors or officers are always tempted to use their rank to get a little loving and this sort of thing happens often enough to be a constant problem, or threat of becoming one. On the positive side, the younger sailors are more likely to behave themselves if female sailors are around, and the women are better at some jobs than the men (just as they are elsewhere). Overall, the problems of women on board are not great enough to cause any movement to go back to all male crews.

 


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