Losses of Air Force Women in Nontraditional Occupations

FPCD-83-7: Published: Oct 28, 1982. Publicly Released: Oct 28, 1982.

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GAO surveyed Air Force personnel to determine the causes of differences between the attrition rates for women in positions traditionally held by females and for those in nontraditional jobs. The survey group included men and women in 10 Air Force specialty codes (AFSC) within four groups of occupations and men and women throughout the Air Force.

Before October 1981, the Air Force followed a policy of trying to obtain the same percentage of women in all noncombat occupations. Because of this policy, many women who would have preferred assignment to occupations traditionally held by women were placed in nontraditional jobs. Attrition rates for women in nontraditional occupations have been considerably higher than for women in traditional fields. GAO found that the Air Force has discontinued its policy of trying to obtain an equal percentage of women in all noncombat occupations. The Air Force now assigns variable recruiting goals for each AFSC, using survey data that identify the number of qualified women interested in and available for enlistment into each AFSC. GAO believes that this policy should help to reduce attrition among women who entered the Air Force after 1981; however, it does not address the problem of women who enlisted before the policy change and who may be considering leaving the Air Force because they are dissatisfied with their assignments.

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