18074382_sWe have read in the UK’s “Michael Rubenstein Presents” that the UK Ministry of Defence was found to have discriminated against females, in this case the highest ranking nurse serving in the RAF.

A female Group Captain joined the RAF as a registered nurse and midwife in 1984, was promoted repeatedly and by 2009 was Commander of the Royal Centre for Defence Medical Clinical Unit.  She was to be promoted to Commander of the entire Defence Medical Service, but the RAF instead promoted a male doctor with 4 years less experience at the rank held by the female.

A UK Employment Tribunal found that the decision making process which promoted the male discriminated against the female on the basis of her sex, and that it was “entirely subjective and unsustainable on the evidence before us.”  The Tribunal also found other practices which had a discriminatory impact against females:  according to Rubenstein, “the different retirement ages (doctors at 58, nurses at 55), the unjustified restriction of certain management posts to doctors and the preference shown to doctors to attend an advanced command course to aid promotion.  In each case the MOD was given the opportunity to provide an objective justification for the bar to nurses and in each case they failed to do so.”

Rubenstein quoted Janet Davies, Executive Director of Nursing and Service Delivery at the RCN:

“This is a landmark case, and bodes well for the future of nursing careers within the armed forces. … It isn’t right for female staff to be placed at a disadvantage when they get to a senior level. The tribunal was clear – not only was Wendy Williams suitable to be put forward for this role, but an objective review would have led to her being considered as the preferred candidate.  We hope that the Ministry of Defence will take on board the recommendations which come out of this tribunal so that the talents of female officers and nurses in particular are valued and harnessed in the future.”