Chinese servicemen want more women crew members in PLA Navy

Servicemen feel a better balance of the sexes would boost morale and performance, poll finds

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 August, 2013, 8:59am

Most male navy servicemen want to work alongside women, saying it will help them psychologically and boost the military's image, state media reported yesterday.

A survey found only 7 per cent of male respondents objected to having woman crew members on board ships, according to the poll, which was published in China Women's News, a newspaper run by the All-China's Woman Federation yesterday. The report did not say how many servicemen were included in the survey or who carried it out.

In addition to medical tasks, women officers are comparatively better at communication tasks because they are attentive to details

The report was widely circulated by other state media, including China News Service and the website of the People's Daily.

Ninety-one per cent of the respondents said women crew were conducive to their mental health, while just over 93 per cent said it could help China's efforts to boost military diplomacy. And 95 per cent said increasing the number of women on ships would improve relationships for the whole crew.

The United Nations recommends the balance of men to women on military vessels should be 70-30, but only 5 per cent of the crew members on board the Liaoning aircraft carrier are women, the report said.

China began deploying woman on military vessels in 1991 but most were assigned medical duties. In 2008, they began to take on more prominent roles, joining the anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden.

Senior Colonel Li Jie, a researcher at the PLA Navy's Military Academy in Beijing, said women officers were generally more detail-minded and patient. "In addition to medical tasks, women officers are comparatively better at communication tasks because they are attentive to details," he said.

Yue Gang , a retired colonel and military commentator, said no more than 10 per cent of crew members on board Chinese military vessels were women, and their inclusion improved morale. "Usually a mission for each navy vessel will last for 10 days or even months, and life on board would be very boring if all officers were of the same sex," he said. "And some male military crew have rough manners and are unruly; they easily get into fights with other crew members. "If there were more women on naval ships, the men would behave better."

Among the women who participated in the survey, 81 per cent said they wanted to be on board because it was challenging, and 44 per cent said it was an honour.

But observers said deploying more women would require authorities to adapt security measures on the ships.

"There could be safety issues, for example, indecent assault could happen," Yue said.