An anonymous parent has been doing some great investigative work and pointed out to me that the 2014 USMMA SA/SH survey conducted by the Defense Manpower Data Center (“DMDC”) uses a different definition of sexual harassment than the similar survey conducted by the very same DMDC for all of the federal “service Academies” (Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard). If the same definition were used across the board, Kings Point’s rate of sexual harassment would be lower than that reported at the other federal academies.
Here’s the problem: The SA/SH survey done at USMMA included “sexist behavior” within the definition of “sexual harassment.” At the four “service academies,” “sexist behavior” is not included in the definition of “sexual harassment.”
How does that skew the picture? According to the 2014 survey at the other academies, 48% of women midshipmen/cadets encountered sexual harassment and 87% encountered sexist behavior. In the USMMA survey, 67% of the women midshipmen encountered sexual harassment — including sexist behavior.
If the USMMA definition of sexual harassment had been used in the service academy survey, then the minimum rate of sexual harassment at the four service academies would have been reported as 87% — a full 20% higher than at USMMA. (And this assumes that all 48% of the military service academy students who encountered sexual harassment also encountered sexist behavior. If not, that 87% rate goes higher.)
So let’s give an example as to how this works. Sexist behavior is defined as saying something like, “Women don’t belong at sea.” So, let’s take a Kings Point midshipman who says to a woman, “Women don’t belong at sea.” That’s a sexual harassment incident at the Merchant Marine Academy. Now let’s take an Annapolis midshipman who says the same thing to a woman. That is not considered a sexual harassment incident at the Naval Academy.
Does anyone in Academy or MARAD leadership even understand the surveys? Have they not looked at the definitions or bothered to make an effort to understand the data that they are using to make life-altering decisions for midshipmen? What good is another survey/study going to do if there is no one competent enough in leadership to understand what the survey/study says?
And by the way, why is the USMMA survey so different in format from the survey for the other federal academies? Compare the two. The surveys are done by the same DMDC; but the final product looks remarkably different. The USMMA report doesn’t even indicate whether it was prepared by DMDC or MARAD. It looks to me like someone in MARAD took the report from the DMDC and lifted parts of it out and put an administration spin on things. Where is the original report, as it came from DMDC? It’s time to produce that (along with the original data behind the survey, for the reasons I explained here).