Military needs to be 30 per cent women for real change: vice-admiral

Canadian Forces uniform camouflage

The officer in charge of human resources at the Canadian Armed Forces says women need to make up 30 per cent of the ranks in order to bring about a real culture change in the military.

Vice-Admiral Haydn Edmundson says the military already faces a tough challenge meeting its target of having 25 per cent women in uniform by 2026.

He says the military is looking at different ways to recruit and retain more women as it strives to reach that goal, which was first set by chief of the defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance in 2016.

But Edmundson says 25 per cent is the bare minimum the military wants to have in terms of female representation and that more would be needed to bring about lasting change to its historically male-centred culture.

Military commanders have emphasized the need to change the culture in the Forces in recent years in response to concerns about systemic sexual misconduct, as well as the need to increase recruitment and better conduct missions that involve interacting with local populations.

Women represented 15.9 per cent of all military personnel at the end of 2019, compared to 15 per cent when Vance issued his order.