Sex at the top

No, this isn’t a tabloid headline but a look at the percentages of men and women at the top of each of the services as of the 1st of January 2014.

The Army

Rank Female Male
Field Marshal 0 0
General 0 5
Lieutenant General 0 11
Major General 0 42
Brigadier 2 158
Colonel 25 495

NOTES;

1. Regular Forces comprises trained and untrained personnel and excludes Gurkhas, Full Time Reserve Service personnel and mobilised reservists.

2. Rounding has been used for Colonels. When rounding to the nearest 10, numbers ending in “5” have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 20 to prevent systematic bias.

 

Naval Service

Rank Female Male
Admiral of the Fleet 0 0
Admiral 0 1
Vice Admiral 0 9
Rear Admiral 0 29
Commodore 0 75
Captain 5 260

NOTES;

1. Comprises trained and untrained personnel and excludes Full Time Reserve Service personnel and mobilised reservists.

2. Comprises the Royal Navy (including the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service) and the Royal Marines combined.

3. Rounding has been used for male Captains. When rounding to the nearest 10, numbers ending in “5” have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 20 to prevent systematic bias. For female Captains the actual figure is shown.

 

Royal Air Force

Rank Female Male
Marshal of the RAF 0 0
Air Chief Marshal 0 3
Air Marshal 0 8
Air Vice-Marshal 1 24
Air Commodore 4 72
Group Captain 20 290

NOTES;

1. Rounding has been used for Group Captains. When rounding to the nearest 10, numbers ending in “5” have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 20 to prevent systematic bias.

2.  The RAF has promoted a second female to Air Vice Marshal (2 star) level since 1 January.

 

 

As interesting as these figures are, they don’t provide any means of comparison between services, either on a percentage of the total basis or when examined with the service specific issues in mind, posts open to women for example. Accepting those limitations, the RN and RAF is about the same size and shows a similar split, the Army numbers look broadly commensurate given the fewer number of options available for women.

 

 

 

 

22 Comments
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mike
mike
March 22, 2014 8:01 am

Good to see the top ranks in all three services are PC enough to be “nothing” ;)

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 22, 2014 9:05 am

I wonder what the tables would look like without surgeons and the like where rank has been awarded for salary reasons?

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
March 22, 2014 1:33 pm

– Not only them…I assume that the same will apply with other (equally necessary) professional appointments without command responsibilities in fields ranging from logistics to the law…the difficulty is explaining how this works very much better…but I’m damned if I know how. As it is, we get endless “more Captains than ships” nonsense…but then if we made these Civilian appointments carrying a Reserve Commission (operable during wartime or on active service) we would get the “more Civil Servants than Soldiers” trope instead.

In this age of ignorance as to how HMAF need to operate, and why there need to be quite a lot of Captains without ships or Colonels without regiments to make it work we have a real problem and no good headlines…

GNB

Chris
Editor
Chris
March 22, 2014 3:30 pm

1. Rounding has been used for Group Captains. When rounding to the nearest 10, numbers ending in “5” have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 20 to prevent systematic bias.”

WTF? Why not just count them? And rounding to the nearest 20? Odd.

Most of the senior ranks of the Air Force appear to be waiters in the West End, at least judging by the uniforms they wear.

Deja Vu
Deja Vu
March 23, 2014 8:28 am

Director WRAC. Brigadier. +1
Director WRAF. Air Commodore. +3
Director WRNS. Commodore. -1

Progress?

Of course the fair sex was guaranteed the three posts but it was also a ceiling. Now I presume it is open competition against their male cohort, and for fewer posts given the cut in the number of senior officers that has taken place since the amalgamation of the Women’s services.

And yes I know Commodore in the Grey Funnel Line is an appointment not a rank.

ChrisM
ChrisM
March 23, 2014 11:09 am

I know this argument has been done a lot of times but it really does look like an awful lot of officers, and doesn’t the RAF look distinctly officer heavy compared to the Army? A Group Captain for every 120 regulars?

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
March 23, 2014 12:02 pm
Reply to  ChrisM

And it’s not as if the Army are short either, a colonel for every 211.5 personnel (including reserves) and a brigadier for every 550. And I have no doubt that the reason given by someone will start with “What you don’t seem to understand is …… Blah, Blah” without ever giving numbers and roles so we can come to our own conclusions.

NB a sentence beginning with “What you don’t seem to understand” is the standard crib card reply to a searching question by any officer within the British armed forces.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
March 23, 2014 6:04 pm
Reply to  DavidNiven

I don’t know the numbers, but before recent changes to the site a discussion was starting about the anomalies thrown up by the rank = pay = adequate remuneration for professional posts issue; thus a number of activities like HMAF Medical and Legal Services are almost certain to be top-heavy with Officers – I believe the Army Medical Service has over 2,000 personnel, but I don’t think it would work well organised in the same way as three infantry battalions, with most of the personnel ranked Surgeon-Corporal as opposed to Surgeon-Major; similarly, on the logistics side somebody might be running a vast supply depot with tens of millions of quids worth of kit but a high degree of mechanisation and just a dozen personnel – would it be appropriate to put a Corporal in charge?

What would help the discussion along would be a contribution from somebody who knows something about it in respect of “Command” as opposed to “Professional” Rank – and about comparisons between HMAF professionals and their private sector equivalents all I know on that is that a chap I knew years ago moved from army to civilian logistics and tripled his salary, with a much reduced likelihood of getting shot at…

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
March 23, 2014 6:27 pm

The rank = pay thing is what causes all the headlines in the media. I think the Army legal have 10 colonels at the moment, but why are they given military rank at all if they are not commanding? You could make one of them a colonel of the army legal service and give the others a quasi civi rank captain lawyer or something but with the pay to mach their skills. The same for the surgeons, if they are in command of the hospital then they are colonel, but if they are a surgeon within an operating theater then why not call them surgeon.

It cannot be beyond the MOD to devise a system that shows politicians and joe public the distinction between two. At the very least it could stop the more Admirals than ships headlines.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
March 23, 2014 6:47 pm
Reply to  DavidNiven

Within a necessarily hierarchical organisation like HMAF, I wonder if giving people the same nominal rank but very different pay might generate as many HR problems internally as the current arrangement generates PR problems externally…and although journalists are a universally vile breed, they are not generally stupid…they can understand this issue as readily as you and I, but produce the stories anyhow because their only object in life is to do as much harm to other people as they possibly can…provided they can profit from it.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
March 23, 2014 7:24 pm

That’s why I think you should make a new stream of rank such as Lawyer Captain or whatever, to differentiate between a truly command position and a vets and padre position. With modern systems it cannot be difficult to do, you already receive differing levels of pay due to your trade and time served within ranks as it is.

James Bolivar DiGriz
James Bolivar DiGriz
March 23, 2014 7:30 pm
Reply to  DavidNiven

At one stage (many years ago and so it may not be true now) in a large telecommunications company the ‘managerial and professional’ levels were numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, etc but promotion path was 1 to 3 *or* 2 to 4, with the salary bands for 1 & 2 being the same and those for 3 & 4 also being the same.

Levels 1 & 3 were for people involved in telecoms and 2 & 4 were for all of the necessary but non-telecoms positions. So, HR, building admin (when you own several thousand buildings, a big area), etc.

[Obviously there is not a totally clean division. Arranging for work on a telephone exchange is not the same as arranging for work on an office building. But there will be differences between any sort of specialised building. I think the guideline was ‘when someone wants to leave will they first/primarily look at telecoms firms’.]

I don’t see why the military cannot do something like that to distinguish between officers who command troops and those who do not.

ChrisM
ChrisM
March 23, 2014 8:01 pm
Reply to  DavidNiven

Why do they need the higher ranks. Cant they just be low officer ranks but with high specialist pay? There is a system for paying specialists in the ranks isn’t there?

RedTrousers
RedTrousers
March 23, 2014 8:13 pm

The forces already know who is top dog and worth talking to. No need for artificial ranks like lawyer Captain.

In the Andrew, it is PWO grads, in the Air Force it is people who wear two wings and who have broken the sound barrier while flying themselves. No one else counts, male or female.

The Army is the same, but with more internal divisions. The Rifles look down on line infantry, the Guards on the Rifles, all Cavalrymen look down on the Tins and the Blues, we all look down on the loggies, the Sappers look up to everyone as they are normally digging a hole, and everyone spits at Gunners, the Andrew and Kevins.

Now, would you rather be a junior cavalryman than a senior Kevin? The qualifications needed for the latter are slightly lower: you don’t need to own a quarter of Wiltshire for a start, or need a decent tailor. ;)

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
March 23, 2014 8:51 pm

Its not for the forces, they already know. It’s for the people who pay for the forces.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
March 23, 2014 8:54 pm
Reply to  ChrisM

On the other hand, if they carry the same responsibility…even if it is for discharging a necessary professional function…as opposed to commanding a unit in the field…why should they not be ranked appropriately? Accepting that the press will actually understand the reality – and could choose to explain it – but prefer not to because the treacherous vipers would prefer to undermine HMAF than properly explain them – all that will result is their looking for another negative, destructive and almost certainly false angle. Why defer to the hacks in the hope of a fairer picture which we know they will not choose to provide in any event?

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
March 23, 2014 9:15 pm
Reply to  RedTrousers

I think you’ll find that the Sappers look up, to converse with the only individual who is their equal …….. The heavenly father himself ;-)

Sir_Humphrey
March 24, 2014 12:30 pm

So roughly crunching the numbers, a total of about 1% of each services manpower is at OF5 or above.
Ultimately we always need seniors to do a lot of roles, many of which need a certain rank in what is a very hierarchical organisation. I don’t think 1% is too bad to be honest – the problem is our deep rooted cultural opposition to having senior people in the military full stop. Methinks too many people out there believe that if everyone was a captain or below then all would be well.
Even from a personnel perspective offering a career path and reward for effort keeps people in. Too many people leave as it is due to reduced promotion prospects, think how many more would go if we further reduced prospects.

A few more thoughts are that commodore is very definitely a rank and not an appointment and has been since the mid 1990s (sorted out in Betts review if memory serves).

Also, the number of posts in each service is still quite low, with a move to a one 4* and two 3*s for rn and raf (eg service chief, operational commander, personnel commander). The wider posts come in as a result of joint, multi-national and other posts which require people. One side effect of jointery is how many new posts it creates!

Finally, does this list include people on terminal leave – I was struggling to place all the 4*s which should be 6 in the UK (CDs, vices, service chiefs and JFC)

Sir_Humphrey
March 24, 2014 12:37 pm
Reply to  Sir_Humphrey

Blooming disqus cut me off. It should be 6 4*s in UK and dsaceur in NATO – that makes two spare that I cannot place – terminal leave for anyone?

Simon257
Simon257
March 24, 2014 1:06 pm
Reply to  ChrisM

ChrisM

That might be due to the fact that RAF Stations are always commanded by Group Captains. That would include RAF stations with USAF lodgers!

Deja Vu
Deja Vu
March 28, 2014 1:53 pm

You live and you learn, and now in my dotage I unlearn. Thank Sir H.