Sexual harassment in the active-duty military is declining
according to a recent Department of Defense survey. Between 1988
and 1995, the percentage of military women who reported that they
had received uninvited and unwanted sexual attention from someone
at work during the last 12 months declined from 64 to 55 percent.
The percentage for men dropped from 17 to 14 percent. In
addition, survey respondents with six to ten years of experience
were asked their opinion of how often sexual harassment occurs,
compared to a few years ago. Sixty percent of female respondents
and 76 percent of males reported that it occurs less frequently.
Only ten percent of female respondents and 5 percent of males
said sexual harassment occurs more often today.
The survey was fielded at the same time other Department
initiatives to prevent sexual harassment were being implemented.
Three survey forms were mailed to military members between
February and September 1995. The first survey replicated a 1988
DoD survey so as to provide comparisons to the 1988 timeframe. A
second survey differed from the first in three ways. It
provided: (1) survey respondents an opportunity to report on an
expanded list of behaviors and to indicate if they considered any
of those behaviors to have been sexual harassment; (2) an
opportunity to report on experiences that occurred outside of
their military duty hours; and (3) measures of Service members'
perceptions of the complaint process and the extent of
effectiveness of training related to sexual harassment. A third
survey, for which no results were tabulated, was administered to
a small sample to provide information that researchers could use
to transition to a single survey in the future.
In addition to the decline in sexual harassment, other
indications that Department initiatives were already making a
Training: Over 80 percent of members reported being trained
and about 60 percent indicated the training was moderately or
Awareness of Sexual Harassment: When asked if they knew
what words and actions constitute sexual harassment, 82 percent
of female respondents and 84 percent of men said to a large
Reporting: Eighty-seven percent of female respondents and
89 percent of men said they knew the process for reporting sexual
harassment. Also, personnel are increasingly reporting their
experiences. In 1995, 40 percent of female respondents and 17
percent of men indicated they chose to report an incident,
compared to 1988 when 8 percent of the the women surveyed and 10
percent of men said they had done so.
Regardless of improvements to date, any incidence of sexual
harassment is unacceptable. Secretary of Defense William Perry
said, all employees of this Department have a right to carry out
their jobs without discrimination or harassment. He and all
senior leaders in the Department are committed to the
implementation and enforcement of appropriate policies and
safeguards to ensure that all members are assured of this basic
(Note to Editors: A copy of the Study Description