Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment in the U.S. Military: Evaluating Estimates from the 2014 RAND Military Workplace Study
RAND National Defense Research Institute Santa Monica
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In early 2014, the U.S. Department of Defense DoD asked the RAND National Defense Research Institute to conduct an independent assessment of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and gender discrimination in the military. The RAND Military Workplace Study RMWS included one of the largest surveys of its kind Almost 560,000 active- and reserve-component service members were invited to participate, and more than 170,000 completed the survey. The RMWS took a new approach to counting service members who experienced sexual assault, sexual harassment, and gender discrimination, providing DoD with unprecedented detail on the frequency, nature, and context of these experiences among men and women in each branch of service. DoD requested this redesign to better align the survey with legal definitions of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Because such a large number of service members participated in the survey, the RMWS estimates were very precise, but precision alone does not guarantee that the study correctly counted the events it was designed to assess. Therefore, the RAND team conducted a series of methodological substudies to investigate whether the RMWS survey estimates suffered from other sources of error, includingmisclassification of sexual assault and harassment, the exclusion of some types of service members from the study sample, and differences between survey respondents and nonrespondents in their risk of sexual assault and harassment. These investigations included both additional statistical analyses of the previously published RMWS study data and analyses of new data collected in follow-up surveys of service members and from administrative records.