Gender Issues

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 99–119 | Cite as

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

  • Brenda L. Moore
  • Schuyler C. Webb


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.


Focus Group Black Woman African American Woman Sexual Harassment Focus Group Participant 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Campbell, D'Ann. 1984. Women at War with America: Private Lives in a Patriotic Era. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Cose, Ellis. 1993. The Rage of a Privileged Class. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  3. Daniels, Kathleen B. 1994. Social Construction of Race and Gender: Black Women Officers in the U.S. Navy. Unpublished Master's thesis. Monterey, CA: Naval Postgraduate School.Google Scholar
  4. Dansby, Mickey R. 1997. “One Size No Longer Fits All.” Reflections. 12(1):15.Google Scholar
  5. Dansby, Mickey R. and Dan Landis (in press). “Race, Gender, and Representation Index as Predictors of Equal Opportunity Climate in Military Organization.” Journal of Military Psychology. 10(2):37–105.Google Scholar
  6. DeFour, Darlene. 1990. “The Interface of Racism and Sexism on College Campuses.” in Ivory Power: Sexual Harassment on Campus. ed. M. Paludi. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  7. Dreher, George and Taylor Cox. 1996. “Race, Gender, and Opportunity: A Study of Compensation Attainment and the Establishment of Mentoring Relationships.” Journal of Applied Psychology 81(3):297–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Earley, Charity A. 1989. One Woman's Army: A Black Officer Remembers the WAC. College Station: Texas A&M University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Essed, Phiolmena. 1991. Understanding Everyday Racism: An Interdisciplinary Theory. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  10. Firestone, Juanita. 1992. “Occupational Segregation: Comparing the Civilian and Military Work Force.” Armed Forces & Society 18(3):363–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Greene, Beverly. 1994. “African American Women.” Women of Color: Integrating Ethnic and Gender Identities in Psychotherapy, ed. Lillian Comas-Diaz and Beverly Greene. New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  12. Horton, Mildred McAfee. 1971. “Recollections of Captain Mildred McAfee, USNR (Ret.).” In WAVES Officers of World War II, vol. 1. Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute.Google Scholar
  13. Ibarra, Hermina. 1995. “Race, Opportunity, and Diversity of Social Circles in Managerial Networks.” Academy of Management Journal 38(3):673–703.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jet. 1997. “Survey Reveals Black Women are the Least Happy Americans.” April 14:14–16.Google Scholar
  15. Johnson, Jesse. 1974. Black Women in the Armed Forces: 1942–1974. Hampton, VA: Author.Google Scholar
  16. Kanter, Rosabeth Moss. 1977. Men and Women of the Corporation. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  17. Kram, Kathy and Lynn Isabella. 1985. “Mentoring Alternatives: The Role of Peer Relationships in Career Development.” Academy of Management Journal, 28(1) 110–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Miller, Richard E. 1995. “The Golden Fourteen, Plus: Black Navy Women in World War One.” Minerva: A Quarterly Report on Women and the Military 8(3&4):7–13.Google Scholar
  19. Moore, Brenda L. 1996. To Serve My Country, To Serve My Race: The Story of the Only African American WACs Stationed Overseas during World War II. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  20. — 1991a. “African American Women in the U.S. Military.” Armed Forces and Society 17(3): 363–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. — 1991b. “Issues of Black Women in the United States Navy: Preliminary Findings.” San Diego: Navy Personnel Research and Development Center.Google Scholar
  22. Nelson, Dennis. 1948. The Integration of the Negro into the United States Navy, 1776–1947. Washington, D.C.: Navy Department.Google Scholar
  23. Putney, Martha S. 1992. When the Nation Was in Need: Blacks in the Women's Army Corps during World War II. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press.Google Scholar
  24. Rosenfeld, Paul, Amy Culbertson, Stephanie Booth-Kewley, Paul Magnusson. 1992. “Assessment of Equal Opportunity Climate: Results of the 1989 Navy-Wide Survey.” San Diego: Navy Personnel Research and Development Center.Google Scholar
  25. Webb, Schuyler C. 1994. Role Conflict Among African American Female Navy Officers. Unpublished dissertation manuscript. United States International University, San Diego, CA.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brenda L. Moore
    • 1
  • Schuyler C. Webb
    • 2
  1. 1.State University of New York atBuffalo
  2. 2.Defense Equal Opportunity Management InstitutePatrick Air Force Base

Personalised recommendations