"Underrepresentation of minorities and women in top military leadership can arise from underrepresentation of women and minorities in accessions, relatively low rates of career progression, or a combination of the two. This issue paper addresses the role accessions play in shaping the racial/ethnic and gender profiles of military officers by comparing the profiles of past accessions with the profiles of today's senior leaders, the immediate senior leadership pool, and future leaders. Data on the demographic profiles of the officer recruiting pool are also used to assess external representation. Based on data presented in this paper, the racial/ethnic mix of accessions appears to be the primary determinant of the racial/ethnic profiles of every level of leadership. Throughout the period for which we present data, the racial/ethnic profiles of accessions appear to be generally representative of the officer recruiting pool. Thus, it is likely that, as the recruiting pool becomes more racially and ethnically diverse, accessions will become more racially and ethnically diverse and, eventually, so will senior leadership. In contrast, gender differences in career progression appear to play an important role in determining the gender profiles of officers, indicating that women have lower retention or promotion rates (or both) than men. Female shares of accessions have increased substantially over time, but women have been and continue to be consistently underrepresented among accessions relative to their share of the officer recruiting pool."
Military Leadership Diversity Commission Issue Paper No. 46
Department of Defense Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity: http://diversity.defense.gov/