Gender Discrimination in the Defense Industry:

A Survey

1216 Responses
  • 690 Men
  • 526 Women
85% currently employed

83% of female respondents had experienced discrimination or witnessed it firsthand

145 respondents provided written responses outlining examples of discrimination, from pay disparity to inappropriate comments about attire. Here is a sampling of just a few of the comments from women:

I don’t know if it would be classified as discrimination, but I frequently come across men, particularly ex-military, that treat women in the workforce differently than men…they are very chauvinistic.

It happens frequently in meetings where a woman gets interrupted or “talked over.” I myself have been yelled at in the past, working as a government contractor on a government site! It was a fellow contractor who was my boss. I can’t fathom he would speak or confront a male peer that way –ever.

When discussing the hiring of a candidate, the fact that she had young children was a con.

The infamous boys club. Not what you know, but who you know. Disagreeing with one key male who will then make every effort to ensure you don’t succeed.

I was “counseled” for the same behavior that a male coworker was praised for – he got an award, I got a “reputation.”

I’ve been in the military over 34 years. Discrimination is a learned behavior. Over time things have gotten a lot better.

Is the grass any greener?

82% of female respondents had worked in a non-defense role in the past.

  • 53% said discrimination is worse in the defense industry
  • 29% said discrimination is worse in the non-defense industry

Little representation = Less opportunity?

More than 50 percent of respondents said the percentage of females in their offices was less than 30 percent. Just three percent of respondents said that females made up greater than 50 percent of their offices.

Where men and women disagree – is government doing enough?

In a survey where men and women were almost always in agreement, 68% of men said government takes adequate steps to recruit women, and just 48% of women thought government took adequate steps. 42% of women and 30% of men said they could do more.

The biggest hurdle for women = a problem of perception

When asked what the biggest hurdle is keeping women from defense careers:

  • 31% of respondents said perception of discrimination
  • 20% of respondents said discrimination
  • 20% of respondents said lack of interested candidates
  • 10% of respondents said perception of government careers
  • 10% of respondents said lack of training programs geared toward women

Read more:

Inviting Women Into the Boys’ Club – Bias and Perception of Bias in the Defense Industry

Women in Defense Careers – How to Be Heard

What are the Best Benefits to Offer Women?

Cleared Pros Expect More Money in 2015


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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer