Women in Federal Service: A Mixed Bag

The Office of Personnel Management recently released a report on the representation of women in the federal service. As with most things fed, there was some good, some bad and some ugly.

The federal government is running circles around the private sector when it comes to executive female representation. According to a March 2014 report by the Center for American Progress, women held 14.6% of private sector executive officer positions. Women occupy 34% of all Senior Executive Service positions in the federal government.

For 2014, 43.5% of all female supervisors and managers in the federal sector were between the ages of 25 and 34 which out ranked the number of female supervisors and managers between the ages of 55 and 64 which total 34.8%. The silver tsunami has begun.

Discrepancies remain between the sexes when it comes to equal pay in the federal sector. Women are paid 87 cents for every dollar made by a man in the federal government. For the SES ranks the gap is a little smaller, women make 99.2 cents for every dollar made by a male SESer.

The Ugly
Overall women remain under represented in the federal government when compared to the civilian workforce. Women make up 43.3% of the Federal workforce slightly below their 46% representation rate in the total civilian workforce.

Men continue to outnumber women in managerial, SES, persons with disabilities and veterans ranks within the federal government. Women make up a paltry 18.7% of all veterans employed in the federal sector. Male persons with disabilities in the federal sector hold a nearly 3 to 1 advantage over women with disabilities in the federal government. Men make up 64.4% of persons with disabilities in the federal service while women represent 35.6% of persons with disabilities.

Men also outnumber women when it comes to overall representation in the federal workforce. Men comprise 56.7% of the federal workforce while women encompass 43.3 percent of federal workers.

White women dominate the federal government female ranks with a representation rate of 58.4%. They more than double the representation rate of their 2nd place colleagues, Black women who comprise 23.8% of federal positions. Hispanic women and Asian women are neck in neck for 3rd place when it comes to federal representation. Hispanics females make up 7.8% of the federal workplace while Asian females represent 6.0% of the federal sector. Consistent with so many other negative affirmative employment indicators in the federal government for American Indians/Alaska Natives, American Indian/Alaska Native women bring up the rear as the smallest female demographic among all women in the federal space. They represent only 2.3% of all female federal employees.

The federal government to some women may seem like a dark and dreary place. We can take hope in the words of the poet Robert Frost who reminds us of the promises we have to keep and the miles and miles we have to go before we make those promises a reality. The current status of women in the federal government reminds us of those promises to create a federal work space where everyone can meet their full potential including women. The only question that remains is how long women will have to wait for that promise to be fulfilled.

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Virginia Sulick

While I agree that gender pay gap is unfair; Federal service employment women receive 87% on the dollar vs men, it should also be stated that Federal government is doing BETTER than the civilian sector where 2010 statistics have an 81% on the dollar.

Thomas Augustine

It is interesting that Black Women are over represented by ~300% (Black women who comprise 23.8% of federal positions (vs. ~5-6% of the population)). The whole concept that racial, ethnic, and gender disparities across jobs, communities, and other life outcomes would vanish in the absence of discrimination has no basis in reality – it is pure fantasy. Culture matters.

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