Gender in Security Roundup

Sexual Harassment in the US Military

Last Wednesday, the US Department of Defense released its first annual sexual harassment report (PDF with my annotations). Understanding sexual harassment is critical to preventing sexual assault because the two behaviors, though distinct, are intimately connected. A 2012 DoD study found that 30 percent of women and 19 percent of men who were sexually assaulted reported that their attacker sexually harassed them before or after the assault (PDF). In the sexual harassment report, repeat offenders account for 11% of complaints. Upon investigation, sufficient evidence was found to substantiate 72% of these repeat offenses.

The most striking finding is that the report overwhelmingly implicates male non-commissioned officers and senior non-commissioned officers in sexual harassment of female junior enlisted servicemembers. In formal complaints, 95.5% of offenders were male and 52.5% were in paygrades E-5 to E-9 (equivalent to sergeant to sergeant major in the Marine Corps). Paygrades E-1 to E-4 (private to corporal in the Marine Corps) clocked in a distant second at 23.2% of offenders. In contrast, 87% of complainants were female and 62.7% were in paygrades E-1 to E-4. This is what institutionalized sexism looks like.

My only other remark on the report is that the four military branches have been allowed to retain their own reporting and categorization systems for sexual harassment. DoD claims that the report is a baseline for comparing sexual harassment rates in future years but without a standardized DoD-wide reporting policy, this report provides us with an extremely flawed baseline that doesn’t allow for valid interservice or cross-year comparisons.


Canadian Armed Forces

I recently wrote a guest blog for Carrying the Gun on the Canadian Armed Forces (CF)’ remarkably sophisticated gender-neutral occupational standards. These standards were devised following a judgment of the Canadian Human Rights Commission that the CF must integrate women into their combat arms while ensuring that all military occupational standards are based on bona fide occupational requirements.

In accordance with the Employment Equity Act, the CF are required to meet quotas for minority representation in the force. These quotas are quite ambitious: 25.1 per cent of full-time military personnel and reservists should be female; 11.7 per cent should be “visible minorities,” and 3.3 per cent should be Aboriginal Peoples  (i.e., native Canadians). However, despite concerted recruiting efforts, women comprise just 15% of the CF. The Ottawa Citizen reports that the CF are mulling their options in light of their persistent failure to meet the quota.

The Canadian Defence Department, pointing to internal studies, is reportedly considering whether to request reduced quotas of 17.6 per cent for women, 8.2 per cent for visible minorities, and 2.6 per cent for Aboriginal Peoples. Since there appears to be considerable political opposition to such a reduction, CF leaders have little choice but to double down on outreach and recruiting. Writing to his subordinate commanders, Canadian Chief of Military Personnel Maj-Gen David Millar warns of the consequences: 

“If reasonable progress towards these goals is not deemed to have been made, the (Canadian Human Rights Commission) auditors can potentially impose conditions upon the (Canadian Forces) to comply with recruitment of (women, visible minorities and aboriginals) over a timeline and in a manner which would unduly stress our organization.”

This ominous-sounding note suggests to me that Maj-Gen Millar feels the heavy hand of true human rights oversight, so yay for the Canadian government.


Kansas University’s First Female Ground Combat Officer

Female ROTC cadet Madeline Wilcox is set to graduate from Kansas University and enter the US Army as a field artillery officer. Since the Army recently opened virtually all field artillery positions to women, Madeline will be KU’s first female ROTC graduate who can serve in a unit that directly engages in ground combat. Congrats to her.


Hooters Announces Its Intention to Profit from National Observation of Our War Dead by Objectifying Women and The Military in General

We’re supposed to take this for a news article but it’s obviously sponsored content from Hooters of America.

Veterans Day, Hooters. That’s the day when it’s logical to objectify women and the military for profit. Still a blight on our cultural landscape, but at least not profiting from death itself.

Lego Roundup

Quick note: Sorry for the sporadic posting last week. Thanksgiving, job-searching self-pity, etc., etc.

Great White North

Last week I introduced Jeff Friesen, creator of 50 States of Lego. Jeff created a similar project lampooning each of Canada’s provinces. Here are two photos from the project, which Jeff titled Great White North. As with last time, the captions are Jeff’s originals.

British Columbia A magical harvest. Credit: Jeff Friesen

British Columbia
A magical harvest.
Credit: Jeff Friesen

New Brunswich If you don’t like the water level just wait five minutes. Credit: Jeff Friesen

New Brunswick
If you don’t like the water level just wait five minutes.
Credit: Jeff Friesen

Joker’s Funhouse

Last October saw the arrival of the twelfth annual BrickCon Lego-building convention in Seattle, Washington. Paul Hetherington won this year’s Best in Show with an enthralling take on Joker’s Funhouse. The Flickr photos are absolutely dazzling.

That said, you need to watch the automation in action to truly appreciate the craftsmanship here.

Sustainability at Lego

At Triple Pundit, Tina Casey reports that Lego has joined the World Wildlife Fund’s Climate Savers initiative to reduce the company’s greenhouse gas footprint. Lego claims that ninety percent of their footprint is found in the supply chain. As such, they have made the following pledges:

First, starting next year, LEGO will partner with suppliers to develop pilot programs for reducing their operational carbon emissions.

Second, LEGO will “work with” (there’s that open-ended aspiration) a strategy for reducing materials-related emissions, which would also have a positive impact on supply chain emissions. That could mean, for example, developing new products that use fewer materials, and incorporating more reclaimed or recycled/recyclable materials.

Third, LEGO will “look into” (another aspiration) product innovations that produce a more sustainable outcome. We’re wondering — just wondering — if that could involve home or in-store 3D printing stations as a pathway for reducing emissions related to packing, shipping and handling.

Fourth, the company pledges to reduce the energy required to manufacture LEGO elements by ten percent per tonne, using 2012 as a baseline year.

Lego also claims to have been the first company in “their industry” to sign the United Nations Global Compact. Since 2006, the company has published annual progress reports on their efforts toward sustainability.

Canadian Kids Prepare for Lego Competition

A group of kids training at Canada’s University of Prince Edward Island prepare for their first Lego engineering competition:

During the rare breaks of chatter the sound of clicking plastic and occasionally the whirr of an electric motor can be heard. The few adults in the room mostly stand back and watch.

“It’s fun to be able to make your LEGO actually move and not have to act it out,” [10-year old Salmon Muhammad] says, describing what he likes best about the day.

The eight young Islanders make up the competition team for the P.E.I. First LEGO League; they are split into two groups – programmers and builders. They are preparing their robot for a regional qualifier in Truro, N.S. – an Island first.

The group supervisor, assistant engineering professor Libby Osgood, got the idea while studying in Kenya:

While studying robotics at Halifax’s Dalhousie University, she had a project; it was homework that she had to take with her to Africa in order to complete. And it was the children there who sparked the initiative here.

“The Kenyan students were enthralled,” she recalls. “Their eyes were huge. They could not believe that is what a robot was. You could see they were satisfied that they were learning something.”

It was an experience she wanted to duplicate back home.

“I saw how engaged the students were and when I came back I saw a lack of similar resources here at such a critical age.”

After all, she says, not all children are interested in sports. That belief was good news for Salmon and the others.

“You can build what you want … and make it how you see it better. You can’t do that with everything.”

There’s a video of the kids’ engineering skills in action behind the link.

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