The Military Demographic Equity Support Tool

A Tool for Helping Decisionmakers Address Disparities in Career Success

by David Schulker, Matthew Walsh

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Disparities in military career success and representation of women and minority groups persist despite attempts to rectify those disparities. To help inject better information into the U.S. Armed Forces' campaigns to address racial/ethnic and gender disparities, the authors present a decision support tool concept and prototype, the Military Demographic Equity Machine (MDEM), which, if developed further, could assist human resources (HR) decisionmakers by offering them a better understanding of various policies' effects. MDEM, which is based on the Bayesian network method, enables visualization of up-to-date racial, ethnic, and gender disparities across paygrades as well as examination of the effectiveness of potential mitigation strategies.

The tool meets the following four requirements: (1) Its inputs and metrics are easy to understand and explain while reflecting the cumulative impact across career stages, (2) it incorporates contributing factors in addition to race/ethnicity and gender in a way that points to the root causes of disparities, (3) it presents results that reflect the current state of personnel policy in each area of the career life cycle, and (4) it incorporates new information as it becomes available and answers what-if queries so that planners can input the goals of their initiatives and assess the impact of these initiatives on the personnel system.

This research is an internally funded effort conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).

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