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Closing the Gender Gap - An Analysis of Female Retention in Combat Arms Branches


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For five years, the Army has implemented policies and initiatives to support gender integration into historically male-dominated environments, yet the overall numbers remain low. Recruiting efforts have moderately increased the total number of active-duty women in the Army. However, a 2020 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report stated that women are 28 percent more likely to leave the armed services than men. The GAO also reports that the Department of Defense (DOD) does not have a specified plan to address retention. If unaddressed, this problem could perpetuate future gender underrepresentation in senior combat arms positions. The problem of minority underrepresentation in senior leadership positions remains a DOD priority. This thesis examines the state of active-duty female retention and attrition in United States Army combat arms branches specifically Infantry, Armor, Field Artillery, and Special Operations. Data collected through online surveys with current and former active-duty combat arms females will explore if factors unique to women in combat arms contribute to their decisions to continue or end military service. In addition, this thesis will determine if the Department of Defense should develop unique retention strategies to retain women in combat arms.



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