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Improving Demographic Diversity in the U.S. Air Force Officer Corps

Improving Demographic Diversity in the U.S. Air Force Officer Corps

Nelson Lim
Louis T. Mariano
Amy G. Cox
David Schulker
Lawrence M. Hanser
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 90
  • Book Info
    Improving Demographic Diversity in the U.S. Air Force Officer Corps
    Book Description:

    Despite the Air Force’s efforts to create a force that mirrors the racial, ethnic, and gender differences of the nation’s population, minority groups and women are underrepresented in the active-duty line officer population, especially at senior levels (i.e., colonel and above). This report examines the reasons for this, with the goal of identifying potential policy responses.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-8696-9
    Subjects: History, Management & Organizational Behavior

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iii)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. iv-v)
  4. Figures
    (pp. vi-vii)
  5. Tables
    (pp. viii-viii)
  6. Summary
    (pp. ix-xviii)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-xix)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xx-xx)
  9. 1. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    A cross-sectional snapshot of the 2012 U.S. Air Force active-duty officer population (Figures 1.1 and 1.2) shows the following general pattern: As rank increases, the fraction of officers who are members of a racial/ethnic minority or who are women decreases. The representation of minorities and women in the officer ranks has increased significantly over the past couple of decades, but this pattern has caused concern within the Air Force, because senior leaders believe “diversity is a military necessity” (Air Force Instruction [AFI] 36-7001)). This report investigates officer eligibility, accessions, retention, and promotions by race/ethnicity and gender to identify factors that...

  10. 2. Constructing Population Benchmarks for Air Force Line Officers
    (pp. 7-20)

    The Air Force differs from civilian organizations in that its executive leadership—the officer corps—almost exclusively enters the organization at a single point. With few exceptions, such as those who enter the Air Force as medical doctors, new officers must begin as second lieutenants (O-1). Because of this closed system, as we have pointed out in the previous chapter (see Figure 1.3.), eligibility criteria play a crucial role in determining the racial/ethnic and gender makeup of the eligible population, and this, in turn, shapes the demographic profile of Air Force officers.

    The population eligible for military service is quite...

  11. 3. Accessions and Retention
    (pp. 21-35)

    Accessions, development, promotion, and retention all play critical roles in shaping the demographic profile of Air Force senior leaders. Officer accessions are the entry of new officers into the Air Force, and officer development is the training and growth of officers as they progress through the ranks. Officer promotions are based on the Air Force decisions about whether to advance officers into higher ranks, while officer retention is based on the decisions by officers about whether to remain in the Air Force. Those who are not promoted may be required to leave under certain circumstances, but other officers who have...

  12. 4. Promotions
    (pp. 36-48)

    There are two research questions that this chapter will address:

    1. Is a line officer who is a member of a racial/ethnic minority or a woman any less or more likely to be promoted than an equally situated line officer who is white or a man?

    2. Which characteristics differ along racial/ethnic or gender lines and are also important to promotion?

    We address these questions in order below.

    We answer the first question by statistically adjusting (among line officers) the characteristics of whites and men so that they are comparable to minorities and women, and then comparing their promotion probabilities. If statistically...

  13. 5. Conclusions and Recommendations
    (pp. 49-52)

    The analyses presented here examine the dynamics of officer progression in the Air Force through the lens of race/ethnicity and gender in order to identify barriers to diversity in its senior leadership. We have analyzed eligibility, accessions, retention, and promotions by race/ethnicity and gender. Below, we summarize the findings and identify resulting recommendations for Air Force policy.

    Unlike a civilian organization, the Air Force’s senior leadership enters the organization almost exclusively at the lowest officer grade. In addition, individuals must meet specific requirements to become an Air Force officer, including citizenship, education, and health. We found that the majority of...

  14. Appendix A. Doubly Robust Estimation
    (pp. 53-55)
  15. Appendix B. Descriptive Statistics
    (pp. 56-67)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 68-70)