Women in Army

In the span of 20 years or married life with an army officer, I got an opportunity to see life of army officers, got to know about their tasks, responsible, and environment in which they work. I also go a good chance to interact with many women officers. No doubt that they are performing the assigned tasks well and most of them are happy with their job.

Should Women Join Combat Arms? Sometime back there was front-page news in a National Daily about women officers in Armed Forces. Unnecessary comparison was drawn between them and their male counterparts. I also heard that, efforts are being made to induct them into combat arms, possibly to make up the shortfall. Are we really ready to accept them and are the women capable of handling such tough and challenging role?

In a politically correct environment nobody dare to say that women are not capable of handling a job being done by men. Nobody is ready to accept that women and men posses different skills, aptitude and potential. Indian Armed Forces too have opened their gates for women to join officer cadre. There is no doubt that tin today’s world you cannot deny women of their right to join any profession. Many women have proved their excellence in armed forces too. Still I feel that does not qualify them to rub shoulders with male officers of combat arms. It is a debatable issue. It is worthwhile to discuss the employment and suitability of women officers to lead combat arms soldiers.

They Are Different

Neuro-Psychologists, behavioural scientists and neurologists like Allan & Barbara, Jodi Deluca, David Lewis etc believe that men and women live in different world with different set of values. They are biologically and psychologically different because of nature and nurture. Some of the significant differences brought out are,

Female brains are smaller but still women rate slightly higher in general intelligence. Women have 30% more connections between left and right brain and have speech centers on both sides of brain. Therefore, they have superior sensory, equipment, which picks up and analyses information to decipher verbal, visual and other signals. They are accurate in their judgment at the intuitive level.

  • Women can hear well. They are better equipped to pick up small nuances in body language, vocal cues, tone of voice and other sensory stimuli.
  • Women are good conversationalists and talk emotionally while men are literal.

The eye is an extension of brain. The X chromosomes provide colour cells to handle colours. Since women have two X chromosomes their colour perception is better. They eyes of women display more white than men, which gives a them wider peripheral vision. Whereas man’s eyes are larger than a women’s and his brain configures them for long distance tunnel vision. Hence, men can see over a greater distance and have better spatial skills.

Men and women have different emotional needs. A woman’s sense of self is defined through her feelings and quality of her relationship. Women are involved in everything that can nurture life, healing and growth. Neuropsycholgists found that most women felt better after crying. In comparison, men are more concerned with actions, fighting and fast activities, whereas women prefer interactive and indoor activities. Women experience and recall emotional events more vividly.

The differences noticed are because men and women have evolved differently. Men hunted and protected while women gathered and nurtured. They performed different, roles, therefore, their bodies and brains evolved differently to suit their roles. Personality is due to nature and nurture. A recent research into the brain and its development revealed that out minds are configured like computers at around six to eight weeks after conception. Out basic operating system and its wiring is in place and several programs are also pre-installed, which leaves little room for change. Our environment, teachers and parents can only add data and run compatible programs. Therefore, the attitudinal differences, preferences and behaviour patterns of men and women are bound to be different. The ground realities also prove the differences and enable us to think about employing women in Army.

Ground Realities

History shows that, very few women have excelled in areas where spatial ability and mathematical reasoning are required. However, they have excelled in arts, teaching, human resource, literature and fields where abstract reasoning is not necessary. Women are rising in ranks in industries like, IT, energy, media and hospitality due to use of feminity to their advantage. They have displayed their gravity-defined self-confidence, showed uncanny ability to identify and hone in one opportunity. They use their feminine side to manage employees and customers.

All over the world only one percent of commercial pilots are women  Also check this article

Very few armies have women officers in combat arms. Where there are women officers, they also have women in other ranks too. Very few women have proved their gallantry in the face of enemy.

In our army, selection, training and employment norms and different for men and women officers. Women officers are not posted to field and high altitude areas because of related reasons.

Use Full Potential

It is amply proved that men women are identical but they are different. Not better or worse. They thin differently and have different priorities, preferences and perceptions. Indian Army introduced women into officer cadre into services and few arms like Signals and Engineers where they are not directly involved in fighting. Men and women should be equal in terms of their opportunities to exercise their full potential. The potential of women in terms of attitude, attitude and skill definitely does not suit their employment in fighting arms. Whereas these new paradigm leaders with their innate abilities can continue to function efficiently in services. Their superior sensory skills can be suitably utilized for certain assignments in Signals and their management skills and technical knowledge can be used for services in MES. Therefore, without getting prejudiced, a status quo should be maintained and the decision to allow women officers in combat arms should be thought over more scientifically.

Anuradha Gowardhan

Anuradha Gowardhan was working with Olive Greens as an Instructor and had written this article  a few years back

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