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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.

Table of Contents

  • Preface

  • Figures

  • Tables

  • Summary

  • Acknowledgements


  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Description of an Officer's Career

  • Chapter Three

    Differences in Retention and Promotion for Minority and Female Line Officers

  • Chapter Four

    Officers' Perceptions of Racial Differences in Career Progression

  • Chapter Five

    Officers' Perceptions of Gender Differences in Career Progression

  • Chapter Six


  • Appendix A

    Performance Evaluation Procedures by Service

  • Appendix B

    Instructions to Promotion and Other Selection Boards Regarding Minorities and Women

  • Appendix C

    Detailed Description of Promotion and Retention Data Analysis

  • Appendix D

    Qualitative Research Methodology

  • Appendix E

    Promotion Board Member Focus Group Protocol.

  • Appendix F

    Midcareer Officer One-On-One Interview Protocol.

  • Appendix G

    Midcareer Officer Focus Group Protocol

  • References

The research described in this report was performed under the auspices of RAND's National Security Research Division.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

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