ACTIVE COMPONENT OFFICERS
Gender. As shown in Table 4.8, women constituted nearly 21 percent of officer accessions and 16 percent of the officer corps in FY 2004. The Air Force holds its place as the most gender-integrated regarding officers, with the Army and the Navy not far behind. Though the levels of women in the officer corps are nowhere near college graduate population proportions, sustained growth has occurred in the representation of women among officers (see Appendix Tables D-16 and D-19 for trends among accessions and the officer corps since FY 1973).
In FY 2004, female officer accessions were less likely than males to have attended an academy, but considerably more likely to have received a direct appointment (Table 4.9). The majority of directly appointed officers are in the professional groups (i.e., medical, dental, legal, and ministry). Officers from these professional groups are classified as "non-line," are managed separately, and do not assume command responsibilities over "line" officers. Career opportunities tend to be somewhat limited for non-line officers and can result in differences in pay grade distributions. Table 4.10 shows pay grade by gender for each of the Services and for DoD as a whole. While females comprised 18 percent of company grade officers, their representation decreased to 13 percent of field grade officers and 4 percent of general or flag officers.
Commissioning source differences complicate the interpretation of variations in pay grade distributions by gender. For example, direct commissions may provide an early grade boost for women, since advanced degree requirements associated with occupations in the professional echelons are rewarded by DoD with advanced pay grade initially for commissioned officers. Assignment qualifications, interests, and policy also affect pay grade. In the Air Force, for example, status as a pilot usually enhances career prospects. (Assignment data are provided later in this chapter in the discussion of occupation areas.)