Active Component Enlisted Force
Representation Within Occupation
The percentages of
enlisted personnel by occupational area in FY 1999 are shown in Table
3.8. No shifts in the occupational distribution of the force occurred
during that year. Occupations such as infantry and related specialties,
craftsmen, and service and supply included less than one-third (29 percent)
of enlisted personnel. Many enlisted members (43 percent) were in jobs
requiring mid-level skills, including medical and dental specialties,
functional support and administration, and electrical/ mechanical equipment
repair. The high-skilled and high-tech areaselectronic equipment
repair, communications and intelligence specialists, and other allied
specialistsmade up about 21 percent of the force. The remaining
7 percent were non-occupational, to include patients, students, and those
with unassigned duties.
The assignment of enlisted personnel to military occupations depends on eligibility (determined by ASVAB scores and sometimes other tests or requirements), individual preference, and the availability of openings. As part of the occupational classification process, the military uses aptitude composites made up of ASVAB test scores related to occupations. The composites vary by Service, and are developed empirically to predict the probability of training success.
Men tend to score higher than women on the ASVAB tests in the mechanical and electronics composites, while women tend to do better on administrative measures. On average, Whites have higher test scores than Hispanics and Other minorities, who in turn have higher scores than Blacks. Within each demographic group, there is wide variation in ASVAB test scores, and most recruits qualify for a number of occupations. The recruits' preferences and the availability of openings for which they are qualified determine the occupations to which individuals are assigned.
Representation of women within occupations. The major shift that has occurred in assignment patterns for women in the last two decades has been to increase their presence in "non-traditional" jobs. In the early 1970s, most enlisted women (88 percent) were in two occupational areas: functional support and administration, and medical/dental.  In FY 1999, 33 and 16 percent, respectively, served in these occupations. Viewed another way, approximately 12 percent of enlisted women in the 1970s served in areas considered non-traditional (gun crews, communications, craftsmen, etc.), and in FY 1999 half of all Servicewomen were in these occupations (51 percent).
Women are ineligible for infantry and other positions in which the primary mission is to physically engage the enemy.  However, the direct ground combat rule allows women to serve on aircraft and ships engaged in combat. The proportion of women in occupational code 0 (infantry, gun crews, and seamanship specialists) in FY 1999 was 5 percent. The percentage of men in these occupations was approximately four times that of women because of the direct ground combat exclusion policy for women.
The occupational differences by gender are illustrated in Table 3.8. In FY 1999, the percentage of women in functional support and administration as well as medical and dental occupations was approximately two and a half times that of men. Although the percentages of women in the technical and craftsmen occupations are greater now than when women first joined the military, men account for the preponderance of Servicemembers in these areas.
Representation of minorities within occupations. In FY 1999, the proportions of Blacks, Whites, and Hispanics were similar in four of the nine occupational areas communications and intelligence specialists, medical and dental specialists, other allied specialists, and craftsmen (Table 3.9). In electronic equipment repair, where the proportions of Blacks and Hispanics were very similar, the proportion of Whites was substantially higher. The proportions of Hispanics and Whites were approximately the same in service and supply handlers, and were lower than Blacks. In electrical/ mechanical equipment repair, Whites and Hispanics were similar and were higher than Blacks. Blacks were more heavily represented in the functional support and administration area and, to a lesser extent, the service and supply area.
 Department of Defense, Population Representation in the Military Services: Fiscal Year 1993 (Washington, DC: Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense [Force Management Policy], November 1994), p. 4-13.
 Memorandum from Les Aspin, Secretary of Defense, Subject: Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule, January 13, 1994.