Critical mass: is female Marine attrition higher in non-traditional military occupational specialties?
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Despite the many restrictions women in the Marine Corps have had to endure and overcome, every year, thousands of women make the conscious decision to serve; however, they make the decision to leave at a high rate as well. This thesis uses data from Manpower and Reserve Affairs (M&RA) of all personnel who joined the Marine Corps from 2000–2014 and, specifically, it evaluates whether critical mass of female Marines in a particular Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) has an effect on attrition. The critical mass theory highlights the importance of numbers, directly relates to proportions, and questions if the proportion of a particular minority group affects behavior. Critical mass has been applied to various disciplines but seldom to the military. I collapse all of the MOSs in the Marine Corps into four separate bins (combat arms, combat service support, service support, and aviation support) and use three different attrition outcomes (months 0–6, 7–12, and 13–24) to generate meaningful analysis and evaluate if an effect exists. The traditional MOSs are those in the MOS category with the greatest proportion of women, which is combat service support, and combat arms is non-traditional with the lowest proportion of women. For the analysis, I generate a key variable for the portion of all women in an individual MOS during the year they accessed and, through multivariate regression analysis, I find that the results are in support of the idea that critical mass has some negative effect on attrition, but the findings are inconclusive.
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