Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz announced today the release of an evaluation of gender equity in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) training process for new Special Agents and Intelligence Analysts at the FBI Academy. The FBI Basic Field Training Course (BFTC) at the FBI Academy began in 2015 and is the program for New Agent Trainees (NAT) and New Intelligence Analyst Trainees (NIAT) to learn the skills and standards necessary for their job.
In 2019, several former NATs and NIATs filed a lawsuit against the FBI, alleging gender discrimination at the FBI Academy. Following a request from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary, the DOJ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) initiated this evaluation of policies and practices, trends, and patterns for male and female trainees, as well as perceptions of gender equity at the FBI Academy. The OIG did not evaluate the specific allegations made in the lawsuit, which remains pending in a U.S. District Court.
The OIG’s findings included the following:
- Female and Male Trainees Graduated at Comparable Rates, but Female NATs Received a Disproportionate Number of Dismissals and Negative Tactical Training Evaluations. From 2015 through 2020, 96 percent of men and 94 percent of women graduated from the BFTC. However, we found that female New Agent Trainees received a disproportionate number of performance citations and were dismissed at rates higher than expected based on their share of the population.
- A Substantial Number of Women Reported Inappropriate Behavior and Inconsistent Instructor Evaluations of Trainees Based on Gender. While most trainees we interviewed and surveyed stated that trainees were treated equally at the FBI Academy, some trainees reported negative training experiences and a substantial number of women reported inappropriate instructor behavior. Specifically, 50 percent of female survey respondents stated that instructors told sexist stories or jokes. In addition, trainees identified concerns regarding instructors’ inconsistent instruction and evaluation of trainees, particularly in tactical training. For example, 45 percent of female survey respondents reported being evaluated differently because of their gender.
- Women Have Been Substantially Underrepresented as Tactical and Defensive Tactics Instructors. Even though stakeholders detailed multiple benefits of women serving as tactical instructors, between 2015 and 2020 only two women served as tactical or defensive tactics instructors for the BFTC. Our evaluation found this was due to few women applying to these roles and role qualification requirements that limited the number of female FBI employees who qualified. Academy leadership recently changed one of the qualification requirements for applying to be a tactical instructor, which may increase gender diversity in these instructor positions.
The OIG made seven recommendations to improve gender equity at the FBI Academy. The FBI agreed with all of the recommendations.