The glass ceiling effect and its impact on mid-level female officer career progression in the United States Marine Corps and Air Force
Thomas, Gail F.
Sekerka, Leslie E.
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Women in the military are considered a minority population. Recent numbers reflect a 16% representation by women in the total Armed Forces population, with the Air Force displaying the largest proportion (17%), while the Marine Corps has the smallest proportion (6%). Multiple Defense organizations have expressed concern about the progression of women officers into senior leadership positions and the barriers they face to their continued success in the military. This thesis explores the officer career path experienced by women officers progressing through the ranks, primarily during the mid-level grades of Captain (O-3) through Lt Colonel (O-5). It specifically examines women in the United States Marine Corps and Air Force because these two branches of service currently maintain the smallest and largest proportion of women, respectively. The researchers examined the demographic composition of the individual service communities and conducted personal interviews with mid-level (O-3 to O-5) and senior (O-6 and above) officers to investigate any commonalities paralleling the military to the civilian sector. Specifically, this inquiry looks at the "glass ceiling" effect and any strong similarities or differences that may exist between the Marine Corps and the Air Force. Resulting information is expected to reveal a better understanding of military women's career progression and factors that may exist in today's Armed Services, which influence their decision to continue or separate from the military.
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