Minority and Gender Differences in Officer Career Progression

TitleMinority and Gender Differences in Officer Career Progression
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsDucksworth, Selika, Susan D. Hosek, Rebecca M. Kilburn, Debra A. Strong, and Peter Tiemeyer
PublisherRand Corporation
CitySanta Monica, CA

Since the military draft ended in 1975, newly commissioned officers have included increasing numbers of minorities and women. These officers must be retained and promoted for the senior officer ranks to become as diverse as the junior officer ranks are today. This report examines whether minority and women officers obtain these promotions and choose to continue in their careers at the same rate as other officers. The authors conducted two research efforts: analyzing personnel records and interviewing midcareer officers, personnel managers, and promotion board members individually and in focus groups. Results for minorities other than blacks were limited due to small sample sizes. White women were found to be less likely to reach higher officer ranks than were men, mostly because they chose to leave the military between promotions. Black male and black female officers generally failed promotions in higher proportions than did white males, but were more likely to stay in the military between promotions. The interviews and focus groups revealed different perceptions about careers: Black officers seemed to have greater difficulty forming all-important peer and mentor relationships and overcoming initial expectations of lower performance. Women's careers have been affected by limited occupational opportunities,inconsistent acceptance of their role as military officers, harassment, and family conflicts.

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