Coast Guard women must overcome bias, poor leadership, sexual harassment and assault, weight body fat standards, and burnout in order to sustain their careers, according to the RAND Corporation.
A report by the California-based think tank also cited berthing restrictions at sea, unpredictability of assignments, and the opportunity to get better jobs in the civilian world as additional factors that hinder retention of women.
Family and personal issues also factor heavily. The report cited circumstances common to military service in general, regardless of gender. Frequent transfers make it hard for civilian spouses to develop their own careers. Good childcare can be hard to find and expensive. Caring for aging parents, dating if single, and making friends also becomes difficult because of frequent moves and deployments. When both partners in a relationship are military, these issues are exacerbated.
The report recommends that the service take more steps to adjust parental leave, childcare, as well as weight and body fat standards. For shipboard berthing, RAND suggests that the Coast Guard seek ways to offer “more flexibility options that could enable women access to boats without permanent physical barriers in place.”
The Coast Guard would be well served by implementing better communication and education measures and assignment policies, and promoting accountability by tracking workforce data and retention trends.