May 20 (UPI) -- Women make up an increasing percentage of the U.S. military but remain more likely to leave the service, a Government Accountability Office report indicates.
The 80-page report, released Tuesday, largely compares active-duty female service member retention and promotion from fiscal year 2004 to fiscal year 2018.
The number of women in the military increased slightly, from 15.1 percent of the total personnel force to 16.1 percent, but in 2018, 8.6 percent of women left the military, compared to 6.1 percent of men. The likelihood of women leaving the service, compared to men, is 28 percent higher.
The attrition gap between men and women has narrowed, and the overall attrition rates in 2018 compare favorably with those of 2004, when 33.1 percent of women and 22.7 percent of men separated from the military.
The GAO report noted that the Defense Department has no cohesive plan to recruit or retain women, and identified family planning, sexual assault and dependent care as issues that influence women to leave the military.
It made five recommendations -- one to the secretary of defense and one each to the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines secretaries -- calling for inclusion of measures to recruit and retain women in the military as part of the diversity and inclusion strategic plans. It recommended "plans with clearly defined goals, performance measures and timeframes" to analyze the efforts.