Article

Gender Issues

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 99-119

Equal opportunity in the U.S. Navy: perceptions of active-duty African American women

  • Brenda L. MooreAffiliated withState University of New York at
  • , Schuyler C. WebbAffiliated withDefense Equal Opportunity Management Institute

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Abstract

In 1989, the Navy Personnel Research and Development Center (NPRDC) developed a service-wide survey to assess the equal opportunity climate of the Navy. This survey, known as the Navy Equal Opportunity/Sexual Harassment Survey (NEOSH), is administered to a random sample of Navy women and men every two years. Each year the survey has been administered, results have indicated that African American women are the least satisfied with the equal opportunity climate of the Navy than any of the other aggregated groups. In an effort to explain and expand upon the findings of the NEOSH, NPRDC organized a group of facilitators in 1995 to conduct focus groups of African American Navy women. The present study is based on data from these focus groups.

The women in this study exemplify what some researchers refer to as the “double whammy” phenomenon: disadvantaged because of both their race and gender. The data also lend support to theories of tokenism. An interesting finding is that regard-less of how dissatisfied the African American women were about the equal opportunity climate in the Navy, they still viewed job opportunities to be better in the Navy than in the civilian sector. Recommendations from focus group participants for improving the Navy EO climate are presented.