Women on Boards has had the pleasure of meeting a number of senior women in the Australian Defence Forces over the years. They have spoken on leadership, strategy and service on various WOB programs and at events. Their words have always been thoughtful and thought-provoking, inspiring and encouraging others and illustrating the rightful place of women in our Australian Defence Forces.
On ANZAC Day 2021 we pay tribute to the many women who have served this country since the Boer War in 1899 – and who continue to serve. Their sacrifice and those of their fellow men can never be forgotten and we are eternally grateful for their past and continuing service.
If you have a story about a woman in your family or community who served in the Australian Defence Forces or if you yourself have, or are, serving, then we invite you to share it with the Women on Boards network.
Lest we Forget
History and Statistics on Women in the ADF
Women currently make up 19.2% of the Australian Defence Force workforce. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) have a higher percentage of women than the Australian Army.
The highest-ranking woman in the ADF is retired Major General Simone Wilkie AO, who, followed active service, became the first female commanding office of the Royal Military College, Duntroon and then Commander of the Australian Defence College. She is now enjoying a portfolio career as a speaker on leadership, strategy and innovation and as a Non-Executive Director and AFL Commissioner.
Women have served in Australian armed forces since 1899, in the Australian Army Nursing Service until WWII when the Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force established female branches in which women took on a number of support roles.
Women were more fully integrated into the services during the late 1970s and early 1980s but not were not allowed to apply for combat roles.
In January 2013 serving women were allowed to apply for all positions in the ADF, except special forces which did became open to women in 2014. In 2016 civilian women were able to apply for direct entry to all positions.
A career in the Australian Defence Forces is now a very real and rewarding option for young women seeking to serve.