Sep 10, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Report: Air Force women, minorities experience harassment and barriers to promotion

Air force graduation

Graduates during the Air Force Academy 2019 graduation ceremony in Colorado Springs. Photo: Kirsten Leah Bitzer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

About 1 in 3 female service members in the Air Force and Space Force said they've experienced sexual harassment during their careers, according to a report released Thursday.

Driving the news: The review, completed by the Air Force Inspector General, also found that minorities and women are underrepresented, specifically at the senior leader level.

  • About a half of all female respondents said that tending to family commitments adversely affects them in the workplace, compared with 18% of men sharing that view.
  • Air Force service members and guardians of all races and ethnicities also expressed concern that discriminatory and racist remarks directed toward their specific group are not appropriately addressed by their chain of command.

By the numbers: The report underscores the ethnic and gender disparities that persist in the Air Force and Space Force, the Associated Press reports.

  • In 2020, nearly 84% of the pilots in the active-duty Air Force were white and more than 92% were male, per AP.
  • About 7.7% of pilots were female, 3% Hispanic/Latino, 2.7% Asian American, 2% Black, 0.5% Native American and 0.3% were Pacific Islander, per AP.

The big picture: The report reinforces the findings of an initial review from last December that found that Black members of the Air Force are far more likely to be investigated, arrested or face disciplinary actions, per AP.

  • The Department of Defense last year unveiled initiatives to recruit and retain a more diverse workforce.
  • More than 100,500 individuals participated in the anonymous survey released Thursday.

What they're saying: "These disparities and gaps in trust affect our operational readiness — we don’t have time or talent to lose," Gina Ortiz Jones, the undersecretary of the Air Force, said.

  • "We will actively work to rebuild that trust and ensure Department of the Air Force members, the ‘One Team’ our nation needs to protect our interests in air and space, can serve to their full potential."
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