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Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Persist in Australia's Top Defence Companies, Report Finds

Australia’s female military talents are being held back by the deep-rooted gender inequality in the sector.

PHOTO: Corporals Ivona Bartush and Nicole Spohn serving in Afghanistan. (Department of Defence: Capt Lachlan Simond)

Australia’s largest defence companies are failing to attract and retain female staff, with research finding workplace sexism and discrimination is persistent in some sections of the multi-billion-dollar industry.

According to an analysis of the country’s 20 largest military firms, just one in five workers are women, in comparison to the national workplace average of around half.

In addition, just over one in seven managers in the defence sector are women, compared to the national average of about a third.

The report, conducted by Canberra-based consultancy Rapid Context, underlined that women were also leaving their defence industry jobs at disproportionately high rates compared to their male counterparts.

Sexism, sexual harassment and gender bias are among some of the reasons behind the high attribution rates, according to the research obtained by the ABC.

PHOTO: Marise Payne (pictured) and Linda Reynolds have served as Australia's defence minister, but there is a lack of gender diversity in the industry as a whole. (Supplied: Department of Defence/Jay Cronan)

The study pointed out that better retention rates of female workers was needed to combat skills shortages in the defence industry and to grow its future workforce.

Over the next decade the Federal Government intends to invest more than AUD$200 billion dollars in defence capability, and the report warns the industry will "need a renewed focus on attracting and retaining highly skilled staff".

"Failure to identify and address the reasons women leave the defence industry puts at risk the industry's ability to take advantage of growth opportunities and deliver Australia's defence capability," it concludes.

The study, titled "Growing the Defence Industry Workforce: Attracting and Retaining Women with Critical Skills and Trades", will be launched at Federal Parliament on Thursday.

Source: ABC News

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