There have been substantial changes to ADF organisation, policy and training, as well as major investment in female recruiting in order to fully integrate an increased proportion of women in all defence workplaces. In 2016 when restrictions on women joining the combat arms of the ADF were lifted, questions asked went beyond issues of physical performance requirements to raise the issues of the overall effectiveness of mixed gender teams, especially under combat conditions. Anecdotally many of the challenges foreshadowed by sceptics have proved baseless, however, solid evidence has been limited, that is until now.
This seminar reported findings on an army led series of field studies on both performance and the development of cohesion in small teams of army recruits and initial employment training trainees, comparing all male and mixed sex teams. The results appear encouraging and supportive of the ADF integration initiatives, yet they also provide a foundation for discussion about challenges that might still exist and ways to overcome them, as well as identify opportunities to better meet the future demands of an ‘Army in Motion’.
About the speaker: Lieutenant Colonel Geoff Orme is a psychologist in the Australian Army Psychology Corps. He has conducted research within Army over a number of years, as well as deploying on overseas operations. He completed a research PhD in 2015 through the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies and the University of Adelaide.
His co researcher, Lieutenant Colonel E James Kehoe is a senior consultant to the Head of the Australian Army Psychology Corps. He completed a PhD at the University of Iowa in 1976 and is Professor of Psychology and Director of Organisational Psychology at the University of New South Wales.