Most people in the military think women should join as long as they have the ability, but others still think female soldiers could pose problems, according to political journalist and author.
The RAF has become the first part of the British military to open every role to both men and women. This means from today (September 1) women can apply to be part of its ground-fighting force, the RAF Regiment.
Isabel Oakeshott is currently writing a book on the state of the British Armed Forces with pollster Lord Ashcroft. She told Julia Hartley-Brewer that this is a step in the right direction but there still "a long way to go on this."
She claims that, when there is a military speaker at military events, "you hear muttering around you at these events, sort of going ‘oh it's a female' as if it's some sort of weird zoo species."
The journalist also thinks some in the army think "it’s going to be awkward, it’s going to be demeaning" for women to go to the toilet whilst working in a tank. But Oakeshott believes "it may well be the type of women applying for these jobs don’t give a stuff about that."
However, she explained that despite this, "the starting point for most people is that access to roles shouldn’t be about gender but very much about ability.
"There are people who will say ‘we actually are not against the idea of women in special force roles as long as there is no lowering or modification of the physical standards required’.
"Ultimately the bottom line is it isn't [possible for women to have the same abilities as men] in all roles."
Listen to the full interview above