In addition to the two Inspector General Disparity Reviews released over the last year, the Department of the Air Force released an addendum, which focused on the intersection of race, ethnicity and gender.
The DAF IG Disparity Review Addendum follows the DAF’s 2020 Racial Disparity Review, which addressed disparities impacting Black Airmen and Guardians, and the Sept. 2021 Disparity Review, which addressed disparities based on gender and among other racial and ethnic groups not covered by the RDR. Data from both reports was used to create the addendum.
“It is clear we still have work to do in fostering inclusive environments where every service member feels respected and valued, and has the opportunity to reach their full potential,” said Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall. “Where barriers exist, we need to break them down. I am convinced diversity in our force makes us a stronger team and more capable to answer our nation’s call.”
The data in the disparity reports released this year indicate females were generally equally or overrepresented in promotions, enlisted leadership, and professional military education designations. Females have also made gains in both overall accessions and racial-ethnic diversity in accessions when compared to their male peers. However, with few exceptions in the data, this addendum found the overrepresentation of White females in these categories may have masked the disparate promotion and opportunity representation of females from under-represented groups.
This addendum report provides additional clarity into disparities previously identified in the RDR and DR. Data examined at the intersection of race, ethnicity and gender indicated disparities in DAF opportunities and discipline primarily fall along racial-ethnic lines and gender lines with the following findings offering additional clarity:
Racial-ethnic minority females were notably underrepresented in career fields that historically lead to wing commander, and in top senior leadership positions such as chief master sergeant, wing commander, and Senior Executive Service (SES). For example, racial and ethnic minority female pilots make up less than 1% of the total RegAF pilot force. Within RegAF operations career fields, for all races and ethnicities, female representation decreased as rank increased, falling to zero for Black, Asian American, Pacific Islander, Native American, and Multi-Racial female general officers.
The disparity among Asian American service members serving in leadership roles is most prominent among Asian American males, who were underrepresented in officer and enlisted leadership positions when compared to White males, and all other racial-ethnic minority males.
Previous reports found Black officers overall were underrepresented in wing commander positions and officer development opportunities. This addendum found Black male officers were equally or overrepresented in wing command as compared to their respective eligible populations, while Black female officers were underrepresented. Additionally, Black female officers were underrepresented in Senior Developmental Education (SDE) designations and were promoted below the in-the-promotion-zone rate to O-6. In fact, between CY16 and CY20, Black females with squadron command experience promoted to O6 at a lower rate than the overall rate for officers with or without squadron command experience combined.
Female officers and civilian employees were selected/designated for developmental opportunities at higher rates than their male counterparts, but males proportionally represent the majority of those who attend professional military education, with the following exceptions, Black female officer SDE designations and Multi-Racial female officers in both IDE and SDE designations.
This addendum found Hispanic/Latino and Asian American military males had consistent disparities in promotion opportunities. They were promoted below the average rate for all RegAF enlisted and officer promotions.
With regards to inclusion, the DAF conducted a more focused analysis of select survey responses. Of all the race, ethnicity, gender, and rank groups surveyed, the report found that minority female officers generally held more negative views on the topics surveyed. Overall, females had less trust than their male counterparts that their chain of command would address racism, bias, and derogatory comments and behavior.
“Understanding where disparities exist helps us recognize where changes need to be made to eliminate them,” said Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones. “Our words, actions, and policies directly convey the value we place on every Airmen, Guardian and civil servant’s service.”
The Air Force is incorporating this new data into its ongoing root cause analysis and will consider action plans to address where appropriate. The Inspector General will evaluate these additional categories as part of its yearly review.