Should Army have gender-neutral naming conventions for its ranks?

Calls have been made for the Army to review its ranking system – as some roles have no female or gender-neutral alternative.

It comes as the RAF and Royal Navy have both made steps towards more inclusive language in recent years.

Women in the Army often find themselves in male ranking conventions – such as guardsman, kingsman and craftsman – with no female or gender-neutral alternative.

Last year, the RAF dropped the terms 'airman' and 'airwoman' in favour of 'aviator'.

And in 2020, it was reported the Royal Navy was moving away from "gendered language", by swapping terms such as 'unmanned' for 'uncrewed'.

Further afield, the Royal Canadian Navy has announced plans to use the term 'sailor' among its junior ranks in favour of the term seaman.

Proportion of women in the armed forces on GFX bar chart DATE 01082022 CREDIT MOD.png_.jpg
The proportion of women in the Armed Forces, taken from the Ministry of Defence's UK Armed Forces biannual diversity statistics, October 2021 (Picture: MOD).

In the latest set of statistics, the Army scored lowest out of the three services on the gender front.

Of its approximately 120,000 personnel, women only make up 10% of the Army's regular forces and 15% of its future reserves. 

The Navy performs slightly better within its Reserves.

However, women are best represented in the RAF, where they make up 15% of Regular personnel and 23% of Reserves.

The Army told Forces News it values "every soldier within the Army" and it "remains open to different views and opinions on the naming of ranks" as "women, like men, play a key part".