Public Attitudes Toward Diversity, Promotion, and Leadership in the US Military

Academic Article


  • This article explores how the public understands military service and diversity. Using a conjoint survey experiment, we ask respondents to select between two candidates for promotion. We randomly present respondents’ two profiles, which vary the candidates’ gender, race, sexual orientation, marital status, number of years served, number of deployments, combat experience, and branch of the military. We find that respondents do not discount candidates based on their branch of service, gender, race, or marital status. However, respondents do weigh the candidates’ combat experience, number of years served, and number of deployments favorably. Finally, respondents penalize candidates based on their sexual orientation: Homosexual individuals are less likely to be selected for promotion. Furthermore, respondents especially discounted transgender individuals for promotion. Important differences, we show in this article, also exist between conservative and liberal respondents, as well as between male and female respondents.
  • Authors

  • Ralston, Robert
  • Spindel, Jen
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • September 1, 2022
  • Published In


  • diversity
  • gender issues
  • inclusion
  • leadership
  • military culture
  • professionalism
  • public opinion
  • sexual orientation
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 0095327X2211176
  • End Page

  • 0095327X2211176