Attrition: Race And Recruiting


January 4, 2012: Social trends in the civilian population have always had an impact on who joins the American military. Currently, the African-American community has a problem with women being more likely to graduate from high school and college than men. This makes it difficult for African-American women to find a husband within their own community and makes it difficult for African-American men to find work. The result is that African-American women make up 31 percent of women in the military while African-American men make up only 16 percent of troops (about the same as the percentage of African-Americans in the general population). About half of military women are married, and about half of those married military women married military men. Only about seven percent of military men are married to military women, but this is largely because only about 15 percent of military personnel are women.

White women are underrepresented in the military, as they are only 53 percent of military women, while 78 percent of civilian women are white. This is apparently due to the fact that white women graduate from college at a higher rate than most other gender/ethnic groups and are the job candidates that most employers have no problems hiring.

The military began seeking women more aggressively when conscription ended in the early 1970s. Since then, the number of women in uniform has quadrupled while active duty strength fell by nearly half. Women are as, if not more, capable than men at most of the support jobs soldiers do. Only about 15 percent of troops are in combat jobs. Moreover, the army can be as selective with female candidates as they are with the males. Standards have always been high, and this helps African-American females, and hurts African-American males.

White men are in the military at about the same proportion as they represent in the general population. White males make up a disproportionate number of combat troops, largely because minority males prefer technical jobs that will help them eventually get a civilian job. Many white males join combat units because of patriotism, seeking adventure, or a combination of both.



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