Former Army Officer Angela Owen Women in Defence UK founder with her OBE for services to women in the armed forces, at Windsor Castle 09022022 CREDIT PA ALAMY STOCK.jpg
Former Army officer Angela Owen says young girls can have a fulfilling career in defence (Picture: PA/ Alamy Stock Photo).
Women

Former Army officer and women's defence champion awarded OBE

Angela Owen created the Women in Defence UK group to provide vital mentoring for female recruits in the defence sector.

Former Army Officer Angela Owen Women in Defence UK founder with her OBE for services to women in the armed forces, at Windsor Castle 09022022 CREDIT PA ALAMY STOCK.jpg
Former Army officer Angela Owen says young girls can have a fulfilling career in defence (Picture: PA/ Alamy Stock Photo).

A former Army officer and grandmother who created a group that supports women working in the male-dominated defence sector has been recognised with an OBE.

Angela Owen, 66, who was deployed in Northern Ireland in 1976 and founded Women in Defence UK in 2011, received her honour from the Princess Royal at Windsor Castle on Wednesday.

Since its creation, the group has provided mentoring for female recruits in the defence sector and has attracted almost 2,400 entries for its Women in Defence UK Awards over the past seven years.

Mrs Owen, who is from the Isle of Man and left the Army in 2008, said: "I left the Army and joined a consulting company that's still in the defence sector.

"I would go to seminars and conferences and there would be 100 men in the room and half a dozen women, and it was just so nice to see women, so great to see women.

"I thought, let's set up a networking group, and that's literally how it started."

She added: "It's really helped to give women the confidence to be women and not perhaps feel like they have to be men to succeed in defence. The awards make women feel that they can be themselves.

"But they also say to the rest of defence – by the way, these women are brilliant, please make sure that you listen to them, please make sure that you use them, and help get more women into the defence sector."

Watch: In December, Boris Johnson conceded the UK's military often fails to provide serving women with the support they deserve

When asked why men still dominate the defence industry, she said: "It's interesting, the whole defence sector, if you look at the stats, is about 80% male.

"The stats are worse in the Armed Forces, the Army is 90% male.

"The civil service is better, it's about 58% male, that's not bad at all. I think traditionally defence has been seen as a man's world.

"There's nowhere else that offers the variety of pieces of equipment to work on.

"There's no reason why a young girl now can't come into defence and have just as fulfilling a career, first of all as any man, but also than in any other sector."

Winner of the Woman of the Year at the 2019 Women in Defence Awards, Phillippa Spencer, also received her OBE at the Windsor Castle investiture. 

As a statistician at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), Ms Spencer's analysis has been used to support the COVID-19 modelling effort, and by those involved in the clean-up operations in Salisbury after the Novichok poisonings.