OTTAWA -- Family, willingness to move, and work-life balance are the key factors affecting whether Mounties seek promotion, says a new RCMP report released amid concerns of sexism and harassment within the force.
These considerations affect both men and women but "have a more pronounced effect on females," says the report completed this month by the RCMP's national program evaluation services.
"Additionally it was found that after 20 years of service, females are more likely to leave the organization than males."
The report also uncovered a perception among Mounties that one must "belong to a 'club' in order to be successful" on the promotional ladder -- another factor that "has a more pronounced impact on female representation."
The research became public Friday following word that Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is giving the RCMP three weeks to come up with a detailed plan to bolster the ranks of women in the force.
A clearly frustrated Toews made the demand for concrete goals on recruitment, promotion and retention of female members in a letter Thursday to Mountie commissioner Bob Paulson.
Currently, about 20 per cent of RCMP members are female, consistent with other police forces across the country.
The minister wants the RCMP plan -- to be delivered by Dec. 11 -- to include measures for ensuring 30 per cent of Mounties are female in the "immediate term."
"Now is the time for action," Toews wrote to Paulson, named to the top RCMP job only a year ago.
"The plan should include specific, objectively measurable milestones. Each milestone should have a target date. Only in this way will we be able to determine whether we are succeeding or failing in resolving this problem."
The pointed letter, widely released to media outlets, is a clear sign the Conservative government is willing to publicly prod and even shame its appointees into carrying out tasks according to the government's timeline.
The letter says Paulson recently gave Toews a draft report indicating the number of female cadets at the RCMP training depot had dropped significantly since 2008-09 despite the need for more female officers.
"In many ways the analysis confirmed issues that we have all known to exist within the Force," Toews wrote.
While it is true the number of females enrolling in the RCMP has dipped in recent years, so has the overall number of recruits, says the report.
The proportion of women among new recruits actually climbed to 27 per cent in 2011-12 from 18 per cent in 2008-09.
And the percentage of women among RCMP depot graduates rose to 22 per cent in 2011-12 from 17 per cent in 2008-09.
-- The Canadian Press