Examining sexual assault in the military

The Challenge 

As part of its efforts to monitor and prevent sexual assault in the military, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) sponsors the Workplace and Gender Relations Survey (WGRS) of active duty and reserve forces. The survey helps the DoD understand

  • The context in which the crimes occur
  • How victims decide whether to report them
  • What kinds of information and services victims receive when they do report them
  • The consequences of sexual harassment and sexual assault on victims’ health and work performance

The DoD sponsored the 2014 WGRS to evaluate the results from the previous WGRS conducted in 2012.

Westat teamed with RAND Corporation to lead the data collection for the 2014 WGRS.

Our Solutions 

  • We gave 550,000 servicemembers one of three questionnaires: a short online version of the 2012 or the 2014 questionnaires, or a longer online version of the 2014 questionnaire.
  • The questionnaires asked about experiences with sexual harassment and assault, sexually hostile work environments, and gender discrimination. They also asked participants whether they reported these incidents and, if so, what response they received.
  • To boost response rates, we offered the 16,000 nonrespondents the opportunity to complete the questionnaire by mail or telephone.
  • We processed the survey data and wrote a technical report on our survey methods.

The Results 

  • DoD is using the survey results to better understand
    • The context in which sexual assaults and harassment occur
    • How victims decide whether to report these crimes
    • Victims’ experiences with services provided when they do report the crimes


Our Client 

U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)