Women in the Army of the Czech Republic. How many there are, what tasks do they fulfil, and how successful they are?
There are 6,620 women in the Czech Ministry of Defence, i. e. 20% of all employees. Almost 3,200 of them are professional soldiers, which is an equivalent of nearly 13% of all employees. Such ratio has lasted since professionalization of the Czech army in 2005. Is that enough or not? Do Czech women have the opportunity to make a career in the Army?
Let’s have a look at official data of the Ministry of Defence. Currently there is one female general, 6 female colonels and 81 female lieutenant colonels in the Czech army. This means that there are 2% of female colonels and 10% of female lieutenant colonels out of all officers in these ranks. It is less than the total ratio of women in the army (13%). On the contrary in the ranks ranging from sergeant first class to major there is more women in each of the ranks (sometimes even more than 20%).
It is hard to draw any conclusions from this disproportion. For example, we can suppose, that the reason why Czech women do not reach colonel ranks more often is that their career was interrupted by periods of childcare. We can also assume that women started to enter the army after its professionalization (2005), so they are only on their way to colonel ranks.
Such trend is supported by the fact that 50% of female soldiers are university graduates. On the contrary, there is only 28% of male soldiers who own a university diploma. In general, on the one hand it is positive that the Army of the Czech Republic consists of highly educated professionals. On the other hand the army is already now being often criticised that there are too many officers, and not enough warriors.
Speaking about women we have to admit that although they are more educated, their average monthly salary in the army is by about 55 EUR lower. Nevertheless, this can be caused a.o. by lower danger money depending on the military expertise and deployment in foreign missions, as demonstrated in the following text.
Let’s therefore focus on deployment of women in foreign missions. Their ratio in foreign deployment has ranged from 5 to 6% in the last 14 years. This means that it is less than a half of female soldiers. In addition, most women in foreign operations work in health care, logistics and human resources management. In other words, they usually do not leave their base.
Finally let’s look at fulfilment of women in the Czech army with regard to military expertise. Only 2 women serve in tank units, 6 women in scout troops, 5 in special forces. It is not too many, but even the small Czech army has its G. I. Janes. On the contrary 448 women work in medical services, 262 female soldiers work in logistics, 194 in protection of secret information (esp. records) and 158 in signals military. We should not forget 56 female chemists or 31 women in the corps of engineers, whereas some of them are pyrotechnists.
If we wanted to name some successful female members of the Army of the Czech Republic, we could start with the only female general so far, Lenka Šmerdová, who was also the first female colonel in the history of the Czech army. She has served in the army since 1984, since 2017 in the rank of general. In the last years she has been responsible mainly for recruiting.
Even female pilots can find their fulfilment. Although military pilot is regarded as a male profession, there are several women who succeeded in this profession. One female pilot served in the Czechoslovak army in the fifties (Eleonora Báčová), in the 21st century women return to this role. Let’s name Eva Popelářová in the Mi-17 helicopter, Pavlína Engelová in the C-295M, or Kateřina Hlavsová who pilots a fighter aircraft.
Finally, women find fulfilment in the Czech army even in positions of mechanics. You can see for yourselves in the following video.
Video: Finally, women find fulfilment in the Czech army even in positions of mechanics. You can see for yourselves in the following video. / YouTube