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Here's a gender breakdown of our army and navy

The DF has recently encouraged more women to join its ranks.

Image: Irish Defence Forces via Flickr

THERE WERE 9,200 PEOPLE serving in the Defence Forces as of 30 September.

This comprises 7,413 Army personnel, 757 in the Air Corps and 1030 Naval Service members. Some 556 (6.04%) are women.

Defence Minister Simon Coveney revealed the figures in the Dáil recently, in response to a parliamentary question asked by Deputy Bernard Durkan.

Coveney said the Government is committed “a policy of equal opportunity for men and women throughout the Defence Forces and to the full participation by women in all aspects of Defence Forces activities”.

As such, a number of specific initiatives have been implemented to increase female participation in the DF including:

  • The introduction of best practices in recruitment, such as the adjustment of physical standards for female applicants;
  • Special consideration is paid to women as a target group for recruitment;
  • A balanced composition between men and women on recruitment and selection boards;
  • All promotions and career courses are open to both sexes on merit;
  • A Gender Advisor has been appointed to promote gender equality policies and training within the Defence Forces.

Coveney said the DF “prides itself on providing a gender-neutral working environment”.

He noted that “a key impediment” in achieving its target gender balance is the lack of female applicants compared to males.

The minister said the DF encouraged more women to join its ranks during its recent recruitment campaign through school visits, media engagement, targeting sports clubs and using social media.

At the closing date of the campaign (9 April 2014) there were 755 female applicants, or 10.3% out of a total of 7,295 applicants, for the Permanent Defence Force.

Coveney stated that “on the face of it these figures appear to be disappointing”.

However, he added: “I believe that a key issue in recruiting and retaining female personnel lies in societal perception and attitudes to female soldiers and officers. I am hopeful that through continued engagement and communication, this perception will change over time.”

There are 6,956 men in the Army, compared to 457 women.


There are 35 women in the Air Corps, compared with 722 men.

air corps

Here’s a breakdown of how DF numbers have changed since 2010:

defence forces personnel

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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