Being a Female Army Officer
What's it like being in the Army?
Sophie's bio coming soon!
Job title: Army Officer
Current employer: Royal Artillery
Industry: British Army - Combat Support Arms
Hours: tricky to say!
How long have you been practising in this field? 7 years.
What’s your job title and field of expertise?
I'm currently currently Operations Officer in an Air Defence Battery.
What's it like working in your role? What does a typical day look like?
There's no such thing as a typical day. Sometimes I'll be in the office all day, managing the forecast for my Battery and planning future deployments. Other times I'll be away on exercise training to go on operations.
Every day will usually consist of some sort of physical training, whether that be self-led or with my soldiers and I'm very lucky to be able to travel often. We also often get the chance to learn new skills, like skiing or sailing as part of adventurous training.
Has anyone ever been surprised when you told them that you were in this role?
Very much so. I have experienced a range of different responses to my job. The most common reaction is one of surprise followed by an interest in how my gender affects my role. I have had some negative comments, with people assuming that my gender is a barrier to success in my job - I am more than happy to explain that it is not!
In your current role, what do you spend your time doing?
My deployed role is that of an Air Defence Command Post Officer. Basically this means I stop the bad guys coming too close in their jets!
What’s your favourite part of your job?
Working with my soldiers. They make me laugh everyday and really know their stuff.
Are there any specific qualifications you are required to have in your field?
A-Levels are the minimum academic requirement to get into Sandhurst, after that you gain all necessary qualifications on Army delivered courses.
Was there anything you liked doing at primary school that helped you get to this career?
I remember enjoying sports and being outside - I do both of these things a lot in the Army!
Was there anything you liked doing at secondary school that helped you get to this career?
I loved science at secondary school. The Royal Artillery is a technical Regiment and I have found an interest in science definitely helps.
What were your favourite subjects at school?
Science and physical education were my favourites and both are very useful for my current job!
What did you want to be as a child when you 'grew up'?
I desperately wanted to be an Explorer and International Show Jumper came a close second. Funnily enough, the Army did not feature until I was older.
Can you remember what your parents reactions were to that aspiration?
I think they probably thought I was a bit daft and that reality would hit me at some point!
Can you remember your parents or teachers wanting or encouraging you to go into a specific career?
My parents were always keen for me to follow any career that I wanted, however, when I told them that I was joining the Army they had a number of concerns. They've since learned more about it and come round to the idea now and are very encouraging. My parents always instilled in me that I could do any job regardless of my gender.
What do you think are attitudes towards and expectations of women in your profession?
I think that a lot of people expect women in the Army to be something like a clerk or nurse, however every role is now open to women, including the infantry and armoured corps. We have come a long way but it will take a while for attitudes to change entirely.
Are there any challenges or benefits working in your field?
One of the fundamental aspects of being an Army Officer is leadership, which comes with both challenges and benefits. I am often reminded of a quote from Field Marshall Slim, "Leadership is just plain you".
I try not to worry about being like someone else, regardless of how good they are. Be yourself, do the right thing and the rest will come. Another big challenge is being away from home however I have found that this is something that I have got used to and now really enjoy.
What advice would you give to young girls who are aspiring to be in your role, or who maybe haven't even considered it as a career?
There is absolutely no reason why you can't. The Army is not a scary place. It's not all about physical strength, there is nothing stopping you being just as good as the boys - or better!
Hours: Variable depending on which part of the armed forces you work in. During exercises and operations you may work long and irregular hours.
Salary: usually £29,501-£32,000
Qualifications required: You can start your Army officer career at the age of 18 - you don't need to have a degree, just good A Levels (or equivalent).
The British Army is the third-largest public sector employer in UK by number of employees (125,430).
Women represent around 9% of the personnel (reference).
Women have been a vital part of the British Army for the last 101 years, and they currently employ over 13,000 women.
"The Army is not a scary place. It's not all about physical strength, there is nothing stopping you being just as good as the boys - or better!"
Prospects.ac.uk: Find out more about becoming an army officer
The British Army website: careers page
Woman in the army: learn more, watch videos and read case studies.