Gender Issues:

Analysis of Promotion and Career Opportunities Data

NSIAD-98-157: Published: May 26, 1998. Publicly Released: May 26, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed whether the military was selecting women and men at similar rates for: (1) promotion; (2) professional military education; and (3) key assignments.

GAO noted that: (1) its analysis of the combined promotion, professional military education, and key assignment data for the services between fiscal years 1993 and 1997 showed that the military selected men and women at similar rates; (2) however, when the data for promotions, professional military education, and key assignments are viewed on a service-by-service basis, the results, in some cases, vary significantly from the aggregate data; (3) the military as a whole selected men and women for promotion to the top three non-flag officer and enlisted grades at similar rates in about 82 percent of the promotion boards or examinations reviewed; (4) for the remaining instances, 15 percent were in favor of women, and 3 percent were in favor of men; (5) only the Army had more significant differences in favor of men; (6) when the data for the four services were combined, the military selected men and women for professional military education opportunities at basically similar rates in about 46 percent of the board or decentralized selections; (7) the remaining 54 percent of the selections slightly favored women, 29 to 25 percent; (8) however, when the data were analyzed service by service, the Army and Navy had more significant differences in favor of men, while the Marine Corps and the Air Force had higher numbers of significant differences in favor of women; (9) for key assignment selections, the military as a whole selected men and women at similar rates in about 53 percent of the board or decentralized selections; (10) for the remaining selections where there were significant differences in selection rates, 32 percent were in favor of men, and 15 percent were in favor of women; (11) the Air Force and the Navy had higher instances of significant differences in favor of men, while the Army had slightly more significant differences in favor of women; (12) the Marine Corps had no instances of significant differences for key assignment opportunities; (13) the existence of significant differences does not necessarily mean they are the result of discrimination; and (14) many factors can contribute to significant differences and further analysis would be required to determine the cause of the significant differences.

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