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A soldier is a soldier

What does the word soldier mean to you? What image does it conjure in your mind?

A man with a gun, his face daubed with camouflage paint in all likelihood.

Turns out search engines think the same. When you type ‘British soldier’ into Google images, 99 per cent of the first 100 results are men.

But women increasingly make up a significant proportion of the British Army, currently, around 10 per cent of Regulars and 14 per cent of Reservists.

We are a Times top 50 employer for women offering hundreds of different roles, world class training and opportunities that can’t be found elsewhere, with equal pay based on rank, not gender.

Women bring a valuable diversity of skills across many trades as, musicians, chefs, mechanics, infantry, physical trainers, medics, intelligence officers and many more. It is a career defined by skill not gender.

Despite this, only 26 per cent of females aged 14 to 24 believe they would fit in.

Do a Google search for a man and the related terms will focus on his career. Do the same for a woman and they focus on her body.

Our lives are so entwined with search engines that many don’t even notice a lack of diversity and authentic gender representation.

It is these preconceptions and stereotypes that we want to shatter.

To help do so, the Army's Recruiting Partnering Project with Capita has teamed up with creative agency Karmarama and entertainment and social media publisher LADbible for an ambitious campaign to change perceptions.

It will include content showing women they do belong by helping to redefine what a soldier looks like to millions of young women.

LADbible will also ‘hack’ optimisation algorithms to make search results more representative of the real picture.

Servicewomen will be encouraged to support the campaign by posting photos of themselves using the hashtags #BritishSoldier and #ASoldierisASoldier

And there will be a social experiment, inviting a group of women to see if they can identify the soldier among them through a speed-dating style Q and A session.

Major General Sharon Nesmith, General Officer Commanding, Army Recruiting and Initial Training Command, said: “The Army is incredibly proud of the progress that has been made towards gender equality.

“Huge changes have taken place over the last few years, and we want to continue to make positive changes to attract and retain the best talent whether male or female. 

We hope that ‘A Soldier is a Soldier’ challenges people’s perceptions of female soldiers and highlights the incredible work our female soldiers do, in order to inspire potential new recruits to consider Army jobs.” Major General Sharon Nesmith, General Officer Commanding, Army Recruiting and Initial Training Command

Siobhan Penrose, Head of Campaigns for the British Army Recruiting Group, added: “We’re proud to be launching a campaign with the Army that directly addresses our attitudes to diversity and inclusion.

“We hope to build on the success of previous campaigns and ultimately offer women and men a chance to reach their full potential through a great career in the British Army.”